Nebraska state office building named for Chief Standing Bear

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A Nebraska state office building is now called the Chief Standing Bear Justice Administration Building.

Gov. Pete Ricketts, other state leaders and several representatives of the Ponca Tribe attended the dedication ceremony Thursday morning.

During the dedication, a bust of Standing Bear was unveiled outside, as well as a mural inside the building depicting his historical impact on Nebraska. The artist who painted the mural, Sarah Harris, also attended and spoke about her work.

Ricketts gave a short speech about Standing Bear’s life and his importance to Nebraska’s heritage.

“This is an important civil rights victory in our nation,” Ricketts said. “And it’s incumbent upon us as Nebraskans to tell that story of the heroism of Chief Standing Bear and how he fought for his family and for his tribe, and ultimately, for everybody in the United States.”

Standing Bear sued the federal government in 1879, which led to the landmark decision affirming the basic human dignity of Native Americans and entitling them to equal protection of the law.

The Ponca Tribe leaders in attendance also spoke about the importance of remembering our history, specifically Native American history.

Historic Preservation Officer Stacy Laravie shared sentiments of healing after all of the injustices brought upon Native Americans, and Standing Bear in particular.

She said she and many Natives are often approached with apologies for these past injustices.

“I’m here to tell you today that although your ancestors may have been a part of those injustices, you are here to be healers today,” Laravie said. “And to be a healer, it is sacred. What can you do to support Indigenous causes?”

She emphasized the need to continue informing people about Native American history and what can be done to heal from the past.

The ceremony concluded with a ribbon-cutting to officially open the new building.

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