Although a portion of their Nebraska homeland was reinstated, only half of the tribe returned to their previous home. -Poverty and disease would continue to take their toll over the years. In 1945 the government formulated a policy which called for termination of Indian Tribes- This policy effected some 109 tribes and bands, including 13,263 Native Americans and 1,365,801 acres of trust land. In 1962, the Congress of the United States decided that the Northern Ponca Tribe should be terminated. In 1966 the Northern Poncas were completely terminated and all of their land and tribal holdings were dissolved. This termination removed 442 Ponca from the tribal rolls, dispossessing them of 834 acres and began the process of total decline.
During the 1970's members of the Ponca Tribe, unwilling to accept their status as a terminated tribe, initiated the process of restoration to federal recognition. In 1986 representatives from the Native American Community Development Corporation of Omaha, Inc., Lincoln Indian Center, Sequoyah Inc., National Indian Lutheran Board and Ponca Tribe met to discuss what they needed to do to once again become a federally recognized tribe. In the spring of 1987, the Northern Ponca Restoration Committee Inc. was incorporated as a non-profit organization in Nebraska and was the base for the federal recognition effort.
In April of 1988 the Nebraska Unicameral passed Legislative Resolution #128 giving state recognition to the Ponca Tribe and their members. This was an important step in the restoration efforts. The Ponca Restoration Bill was introduced in the United States Senate on October 11, 1989 by Senators James J. Exon and J. Robert Kerry. The Senate passed the Ponca Restoration Act by unanimous consent on July 18, 1990. The bill was signed into law on October 31, 1990 by President Bush.
Today the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska headquarters is located in Niobrara Nebraska. The Ponca Tribe, which was dissolved by an act of Congress over 30 years ago, is once again rebuilding its traditional culture. The Ponca are now rebuilding their land base, on their aboriginal homeland.
The Ponca are a Native American tribe which currently has about 1300 members and which has its tribal headquarters in Niobrara, Nebraska ... In 1789, fur trader Juan Baptiste Munier was given an exclusive licence to trade with the Ponca at the mouth of the Niobrara. He founded a trading post at the point where the Niobrara joins the Missouri and found about 800 Ponca residing there. Shortly after that, the tribe was hit by a devastating smallpox epidemic and in 1804, when they were visited by the Lewis and Clark Expedition there were only about 200 Ponca ... n 1858 the Ponca signed a treaty where they gave up parts of their land in return for protection and a permanent home on the Niobrara. In 1868 the lands of the Poncas were included in the Sioux Reservation by mistake. The Poncas became thus plagued with raiding Sioux who claimed the land as their own. When Congress in 1876 decided to exile several of the northern tribes to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma, the Ponca were on the list.
Standing Bear (1834(?) - 1908 was a Ponca Native American Indian chief who successfully argued in U.S. District Court in 1879 that American Indians are "persons within the meaning of the law" and have the rights of citizenship ... Judge Dundy had to rule on whether an Indian had the rights of freedom guaranteed by the Constitution. The government tried to prove that an Indian was neither a person nor a citizen so couldn't bring suit against the government. On April 30, 1879, Judge Dundy stated that an Indian is a person within the law and that the Ponca were being held illegally. He set free Standing Bear and the Ponca. A government commission, appointed by President Rutherford B. Hayes, investigated and found the Ponca situation to be unjust. They arranged for the return of the Ponca from Indian Territory and allotted land to them along the Niobrara River.