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Standing Bear's Footsteps Previous Broadcasts

KQED World: Sat, Nov 8, 2014 -- 2:00 PM

The story of an Indian chief who went to court to prove he was a person... and in the process redefined what it means to be an American. The documentary traces one man's journey from his Nebraska homeland to the malaria-infested plains of Indian Territory and finally to a trial that made front page news across America.
Standing Bear's odyssey began in 1877 when the Ponca tribe was exiled from the Niobrara valley to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma, a place they called death country. As Standing Bear's son was dying, he begged his father to take his body home and bury him with his ancestors. In January of 1879, Standing Bear began the long walk north to keep his promise. Before he and his small band could make it home they were arrested and imprisoned at Fort Omaha. With the secret support of a famous army general, Standing Bear sued the US government for his freedom. The film weaves interviews, re-creations and present day scenes to tell a story about human rights, one that resonates powerfully in the present. "I am a man," Standing Bear said at his trial. "The same God made us both."

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