The latest US Postal Service stamp honors Chief Standing Bear, the 19th century Native American leader whose 1879 lawsuit established that Native Americans are people under US law and entitled to the same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Kicked off their land in Nebraska, the Ponca were forced by the Army to walk to Oklahoma. When he tried to return home to bury his son, who died on the journey, Chief Standing Bear was arrested and imprisoned. He sued the federal government for violating his constitutional rights. While the government argued that he could not sue because he “was neither a citizen, nor a person,” his legal team cited the Fourteenth Amendment and the rights it affords to all citizens. “For so long people didn’t know his story or the Ponca story — our own trail of tears,” said Candace Schmidt, chairwoman of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. “We are finally able to tell his story of perseverance and how we as a tribe are resilient.”

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