Nebraska's Chief Standing Bear statue unveiled in the U.S Capitol

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- A new piece of Nebraskan history now stands in the U.S. Capitol. Lawmakers, Nebraskans and visitors packed into Statuary Hall in the Capitol this afternoon unveil a new statue of Chief Standing Bear.

Ponca tribe leaders and Congressional leaders Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Kevin McCarthy help unveil the new statue of Chief Standing Bear. (Source: Gray DC)

The statue replaces one of William Jennings Bryan that has represented the state since 1937.

A Nebraska native and Ponca tribe leader, Chief Standing Bear was a champion for Native American rights in the 1800s. He stood before the U.S. District Court in 1879 to argue that Native Americans deserved equal rights.

“Of course, our motto is ‘equality before the law,’" Gov. Pete Ricketts said. "And that’s what Chief Standing Bear was asking for.”

Senator Deb Fischer, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry and Governor Pete Ricketts each made remarks during the ceremony. The lawmakers said they were excited to stand beside the Congressional and Ponca leaders to present the newest piece of Nebraskan history. The ceremony also highlighted Chief Standing Bear’s Ponca tribe, with tribal leaders performing songs and prayers throughout.

“It is, really an honor to be a part of that ceremony," said Sen. Fischer. "This doesn’t happen very often, for a state to change a statue.”

“He’s an extraordinary representation of Nebraska," said Rep. Fortenbery. "And a beautiful gift of what it means to be fully American.”
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