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Ponca City Information

Ponca City History

1879

The Ponca City Information website is not affiliated nor associated with the City of Ponca City, the website is provided by the Ponca City Publishing Company, Inc. as an information website for Ponca City, Oklahoma.

1879 — When the 12-year-old son of Chief Standing Bear died, the Chief was unwilling to bury him in this strange country. So, Standing Bear and 66 followers left the Ponca Reservation in January 1879, on foot. They followed a wagon containing the body of his dead son, as they headed north to the traditional Ponca burial grounds in Nebraska.

Because the Ponca were not to leave their Reservation without permission, Standing Bear and his small group of followers were labeled as a renegade band. Gen. George Crook was then given orders by Secretary of the Interior Carl Schurz to arrest the runaways and return them to Indian Territory.

By March, 1879, Standing Bear and his followers had reached the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska. The Omaha Chief Iron Eyes took pity on them, and offered food and asylum. However, Gen. Crook caught up with Standing Bear and his Ponca's, took them into custody without incident, and began escorting them back to Indian Territory.

On their way back south, the Ponca camped at Fort Omaha near the city of Omaha, Neb., and their story was made known to the citizens there. The Omaha Daily Herald newspaper publicized the plight of the Ponca group, and many other newspapers across the country carried it. As a result, two prominent attorneys decided that a writ of habeas corpus, asking for 14th amendment protection, could prevent the Ponca from being forcibly returned to their reservation in Oklahoma. (The 14th Amendment affirms that no State shall deprive anyone of life, liberty or property without due process of law.) The U. S. Government denied the right of Standing Bear to obtain a writ of habeas corpus on the grounds that "an Indian is not a person within the meaning of the law."

The case of Standing Bear vs. Crook was brought before Judge Elmer S. Dundy in U.S. District Court on April 30, 1879. By May 12, 1879, Judge Dundy had filed his now famous decision in favor of Chief Standing Bear, ruling that "an Indian is a person the same as a White Man, and similarly entitled to the protection of the Constitution." Standing Bear and his followers were set free, and they were able to return to the Ponca tribal burial grounds on the Missouri Bluffs of Nebraska, where he buried his son with tribal honors.

Colonel George W. Miller, a Confederate veteran, founded the 101 Ranch in northern Oklahoma. He and his wife, Molly, sons Joe, Zack and George Jr., along with daughter, Alma, helped establish the ranch. It was a sprawling 110,000 acres of leased Indian lands that spread across four counties. A city within itself, it was a self-sufficient showplace, employing thousands of people. They had a school, show grounds, general store and café, hotel, blacksmith shop, leather shop, dairy, saddle shop, meat packing plant, and oil refinery. The ranch had its own newspaper, magazine, and even its own scrip (money). They built homes for employees along with guesthouses and a "Dude Ranch." The 101 Ranch became one of the largest diversified farms with cross breeding of animals and agricultural products