Friday, February 26, 2016
Standing Up for Standing Bear
Something about this crazy election year reminded me of a bit of research I did for my historical romance, Pursued. A lot of political rhetoric involves Washington lobbyists and how officials are bought by rich donors and superpacs. Like we didn’t already know that, right? But there’s another side of lobbying that allows all citizens to make a difference—and that’s been the case all through history.
The slave issue would never have come to a head if people of conscience hadn’t been lobbying for years to get rid of slavery. It took nearly a hundred years of constant lobbying for women to attain the vote. Civil Rights legislation depended on thousands of activists descending on Washington and demanding change.
Some issues are not as well-known but also changed the course of history. It happened relatively quickly and involved only a few passionate citizens.
Standing Bear was a Ponca Indian Chief who successfully argued that Indians were persons within the meaning of the law. But he had help. In 1875, the US Indian Agency ordered the Poncas to be moved to the Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. Standing Bear and his associates felt they should have been allowed to moved to the Omaha Reservation instead.
In 1877, the government forced the Poncas, including Standing Bear and his family, to be removed to the Quapaw Reservation near present-day Peoria, Oklahoma. By spring of the next year nearly a third of the tribe had died due to starvation, malaria and other causes, including Standing Bear’s oldest son. The chief and sixty-five followers traveled north to bury the son in their original homeland. They were arrested for leaving the assigned reservation and taken to Fort Omaha.
It was there Standing Bear found his first advocate in General George Crook, who gave the Indians an opportunity to seek legal redress and told the story to Thomas Tibbles, an editor of the Omaha Daily Herald. Tibbles publicized the Ponca’s story widely, and two prominent lawyers offered their services for free.
In a crowded courtroom, Standing Bear, spoke on his own behalf. His speech is the reason I remember this story so well. You see, Standing Bear had been taught by missionaries earlier in his life, and his speech is one of the best testimonies of Christian faith I’ve ever read. In fact, it was so moving, most of the attendees were in tears at the conclusion, and later many of them went to Washington to petition the Hayes administration on behalf of Indian rights.
Standing bear won his case—and it was a landmark case. For the first time, Indians were ruled to be human under the laws of the United States. It’s unlikely to have happened without the help of God and those who were willing to stand up for what was right.
One of the easiest ways of standing up for our beliefs is to exercise our right to vote. Yes, we have to put up with the nasty politicking, but it’s worth it. If we don’t, the lobbyists will call all the shots.
Don’t forget to leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for While I’m Waiting Devotional by Laura Hodges Poole. Winner announced in the Weekly Windup on the 29th. Check out all of our great prizes on the Prizes Galore Page.
SPECIAL GIVEAWAY!!! In honor of Standing Bear’s courage and those who stood with him, I’m giving away an eBook copy of Pursued today only. Winner to be announded in Weekly Windup.
Carianne Barlow never expected to leave her comfortable Philadelphia townhouse and travel to the wild-west, but when she inherits a fortune, conditions are attached. She must carry out her grandmother’s vision of a western culture center anchored by a library to rival those of the east. Such an undertaking requires political support, and no one is more influential than Rhyan Cason, a handsome cattle baron with the reputation of hardened businessman and rabble rousing lobbyist with a preference for the ladies. Carianne gets on the westbound train with no thought of the treacherous world awaiting her in the little prairie town near Rhyan’s sprawling ranch.When he asks her to catalog his library, she jumps at the chance without realizing he's pursued by a sinister adversary bent on destroying everything he cares for--including her.