2023 Chief Standing Bear
- Honors Chief Standing Bear of the Ponca tribe, known for his famous court case which ruled Native Americans were people under the law and entitled to the same rights and protections
63¢ First Class Mail (Forever)
First Day of Issue:
May 12, 2023
First Day City:
Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd.
Pane of 20
Nonphosphored Type III, Block Tagged
Why the stamp was issued:
To commemorate Chief Standing Bear who was known for his landmark court case in 1879 that declared Native Americans people under the law. These gave them the rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
About the stamp design:
The stamp pictures a portrait by Thomas Blackshear II based on a black-and-white photograph from 1877. The color of Chief Standing Bear’s clothing was chosen based on historical descriptions.
First Day City:
The stamp was issued in Lincoln, Nebraska, where a statue of Chief Standing Bear can be found on the Centennial Mall.
History the stamp represents:
Ponca Chief Standing Bear was a civil rights pioneer who won a pivotal court case that declared Native Americans were people under the law.
Standing Bear (1829-1908) grew up in the traditional Ponca homeland, near where the Niobrara and Missouri Rivers meet. His tribe was forced to move several times over the years. By 1878, many had died and the survivors were living in unfamiliar lands.
Following the death of his oldest son in 1878, Standing Bear returned to his homelands to lay his son to rest. However, Standing Bear and his followers were arrested for leaving their reservation without permission. Two Omaha lawyers took up his case and filed for a writ of habeas corpus
(the right against unlawful imprisonment). The case of Standing Bear v. Crook
went before a judge in May 1879. The government argued that a Native American wasn’t a “person” under law. However, Standing Bear stated that while his skin was a different color, his blood was not – that “God made me, and I am a Man.” The judge ruled that within the meaning of habeas corpus, “an Indian is a person.” The Ponca were allowed to return to their homelands and Standing Bear gave lectures on Indian rights.
In 1908, Sitting Bear was laid to rest on a hill overlooking his birth site. He has received many honors in the years since, including a 2023 US stamp.