Chief Standing Bear


Photo gallery

Full program

Lincoln Out and About




Cooper Foundation Humanities Nebraska
  • Office of the University of Nebraska President
  • Office of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor
  • Office of the UNL Senior Vice Chancellor
  • UNL College of Arts & Sciences
  • Korff School of Music
  • UNL Office of Research and Economic Development
  • Convocations Committee of the UNL Faculty Senate
  • Claire M. Hubbard Foundation
  • BNSF Foundation
  • Mike Hemmer

Cherokee Word for Water movie poster

Media coverage

Great Plains Symposium to Bring Native Scholars, Talent, 1/31, Indian Country Today Media Network

Cindy Lange-Kubick: Breastfeeding, 'Sesame Street' and a sovereign right, 5/12, Lincoln Journal Star

Editorial, 5/14, Lincoln Journal Star

Sainte-Marie to bring eclectic rock to Kimball, 5/14, Lincoln Journal Star

Bronze by local artist featured at symposium, 5/19, McCook Gazette

Letter, 5/31: Nebraska must honor Native Americans, 5/30, Lincoln Journal Star

Symposium logo

Thanks for joining us for the 2015 Great Plains Symposium! We had a fantastic turn out and an even better line up of speakers and events. Stay tuned for a video from the event. Photos are under the link at the left and below.

The 2015 Great Plains Symposium brought several important figures in the current Native American economic and cultural renewal.

The Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs teamed up to bring this exceptional gathering of Native American talent to Lincoln, Neb., on May 14-15. The 2015 Great Plains Symposium “Standing Bear and the Trail Ahead” explored the status, challenges, and especially the opportunities and prospects that Native Americans and First Peoples face going forward.

Our title, “Standing Bear and the Trail Ahead,” plays off the local effort to create a Memorial Trail honoring Standing Bear. The Memorial Trail, a virtual experience, would follow Standing Bear’s (and the Ponca tribe’s) “removal” to Oklahoma and his unauthorized return to the Ponca homeland, where he was arrested, tried in an Omaha federal court, and famously granted the first recognition in U.S. law of Indians’ “personhood.” The relevance of Standing Bear’s story for our Symposium is that his return and vindication embody the kind of “triumph of endurance” that in a larger sense Native and First Peoples have achieved and that now places them on the threshold of renewal and revival.

St. Augustine Dance Troupe

“the Trail Ahead” part of our title signals that the Symposium looked broadly at the current status and future prospects of Native peoples. There has been considerable attention (as there should be) about reservation bad news, such as high diabetes rates, joblessness, alcoholism, domestic violence, and suicide. But good news deserves telling too, and our Symposium showcased growing economic progress among Indians and the emerging Native cultural renaissance.

Winona LaDuke

We see emerging evidence of the new opportunities and improving prospects in the prosperity that gaming and casinos have brought some tribes, but much more profoundly we see it in the business success of Ho-Chunk Inc. and the Winnebago tribe and in the growing entrepreneurialism the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Eastern Shawnee, and the Hoopa Valley Tribe; we see it in the developing success of the Inter-Tribal Buffalo Council; we see it in the benefits brought by such landmark cases as the Osage land trust settlement; we see it in the escalating quality of Indian colleges and their students’ achievements; and perhaps most convincingly we see it in the accomplishments of Indian writers and artists like Louise Erdrich, William Least Heat-Moon, Chris Eyre, and others. Indeed, we may be at the front edge of a Native and First Peoples renaissance of historic proportions.

A large number of the individuals contributing to this renaissance appeared at the Symposium and the event concluded with an exceptional and powerful concert by Buffy Sainte-Marie. 

Buffy Sainte-Marie

* * *

The NCIA is the state liaison between the four headquarter tribes of the Omaha, Ponca, Santee Sioux and Winnebago Tribes of Nebraska. It helps ensure the sovereignty of both tribal and state governments is recognized and acted upon in a true government-to-government relationship. The commission also serves all off-reservation Indian constituencies in the State of Nebraska. All goals of the commission are accomplished through advocacy, education and promotion of legislation.

More information on the Chief Standing Bear Breakfast can be found at the Commission's website

Featured presenters

Winona LaDuke


Native American activist, environmentalist, economist, and writer, is known for her work on tribal land claims and preservation.  LaDuke is the executive director of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, a nonprofit that seeks to recover land for the Anishinaabeg people and develop programs for environmental preservation. You may recognize LaDuke when she was the vice presidential nominee of the Green Party of the United States in both 1996 and 2000 or from her appearance on the Colbert Report in 2008.

Hattie Kauffman

Former CBS and ABC correspondent (and first Native American national correspondent), author of memoir Falling into Place, enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe, spoke during the Standing Bear Breakfast

Wilson Pipestem

Managing Partner and co-founder of Ietan Consulting, which is “dedicated to advocacy on behalf of Indians and tribes”; enrolled member of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Native American folk singer, Grammy-winning songwriter, former “Sesame Street” regular, member of Cree Nation.

Speakers and Presenters

Beatty Brasch, Executive Director, Center for People in Need, Lincoln, Neb.

Moses Brings Plenty, actor, lead in “Cherokee Word for Water,” Oglala Lakota

Keith Fix, chief executive officer of Blabfeed, Ponca Tribe of Nebraska

Judi gaiashkibos, Exec. Dir., Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska

Camie Goldhammer, Founder and chair of the Native American Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington, Sisseton-Wahpeton

Margaret Jacobs, Chancellor’s Professor of History, UNL, Bancroft Prize winner for White Mother to a Dark Race

Winona LaDuke, author, Founding Director of the White Earth Land Recovery Project and enrolled member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg

Christine Lesiak, NET Television, producer, director, and writer of Standing Bear’s Footsteps

Stew Magnuson, journalist and author of The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder

Robert Miller, author of Reservation “Capitalism:” Economic Development in Indian Country, enrolled citizen of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe

Lance Morgan, CEO, Ho-Chunk Inc., enrolled member, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska

Kaci Nash, research associate and project manager, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of The Great Sioux Nation

James Riding In, author and scholar, Arizona State University, enrolled citizen of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma

Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, author of Standing Bear of the Ponca, enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe

Joe Starita, author, I Am A Man: Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice

Jim Stone, Executive Director, Inter-Tribal Buffalo Council, enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe

Mike Tyndall, Buffalo herd manager, enrolled member, Omaha Tribe of Nebraska

Mark Weekly, Acting Deputy Regional Director-Midwest Region, National Park Service

Ponka-We Victors, member of Kansas House of Representatives, enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma and the Tohono O’odham Nation of Arizona

Roger Welsch, Nebraska author, humorist, folklorist, and commentator, adopted member of Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and Tribal Friend of Pawnee

David Wishart, Professor Geography, UNL, author of An Unspeakable Sadness

Larry Wright, Sr., Director of Northern Ponca Buffalo Programs, enrolled member, Ponca Tribe of Nebraska


Thursday, May 14, 2015

10 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., Great Plains Art Museum, 1155 Q St. Packet/ticket pick up

10:30 a.m., Morrill Hall front steps: Youth events with Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, St. Augustine Dance Troupe

1 - 2:30 p.m. | Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center, south theater: "The Cherokee Word for Water" (film) and talkback with Moses Brings Plenty, (Moderator: Princilla Parker)

3 - 4:30 p.m. | Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center, south theater: "Standing Bear's Footsteps" (film) and talkback with Joe Starita and Christine Lesiak

5:30 - 7 p.m. | Van Brundt Visitors Center: College of Arts & Sciences' Opening Reception, introduction by Rick Edwards, Judi gaiashkibos, and special guest Arts & Sciences Dean Joseph Francisco (packet pickup available)

7:30 p.m. | Kimball Recital Hall: Winona LaDuke plenary talk. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., auditorium doors open at 7 p.m. Mr. (Packet pickup available)

Friday, May 15, 2015

8 - 10 a.m. | Embassy Suites Ballroom: Standing Bear Breakfast with Hattie Kauffman, anthem: Emmy Her Many Horses (packet pickup available)

10:15 - 11:45 a.m. | various locations: Concurrent sessions
1. Sheldon Museum of Art, Abbott Auditorium: "Back from Oblivion: The Trail Ahead for Tribal Buffalo Herds" - Jim Stone and a panel of Mike Tyndall, Larry Wright Sr, and others (Moderator: Andrea Miller)
2. Lied Center for Performing Arts, Steinart Room: "Removal, Return, and Reconciliation of Tribes in America"  (Moderator: Alicia Harris)
David Wishart, "Plains Indians: Removal, Return, and Reconciliation"
Margaret Jacobs, "American Indian Child Removal and the Elusiveness of Reconciliation"
3. Lied Center for Performing Arts, Lied Commons: "Building the Standing Bear Memorial Trail"
Mark Weekley, "What a National Historic Trail is and is Not"
Kaci Nash, "Following Chief Standing Bear: Investigating the Ponca Removal Trail"
Joe Starita, "Why Standing Bear Matters – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow"
(Moderator: Beth Ritter)
4. Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center, south theater: "Mitakuye Oyasin: Health and Healing through Motherhood" - Camie Goldhammer (Moderator: Marisa Cummings)

12 - 1:30 p.m., Embassy Suites Ballroom: Luncheon honoring tribal leaders with Wilson Pipestem, introduction by Larry Wright Jr., Ponca Tribal Chairman

1:45 - 3:15 p.m. | various locations: Concurrent sessions
5. Sheldon Museum of Art, Abbott Auditorium: "The Path Forward for Native Women" - Ponka-We Victors, Katie Brossy, Judi gaiashkibos (Moderator: Judi gaiashkibos)
6. Lied Center for Performing Arts, Steinart Room: "Resources for Indian Futures" 
 Keith Fix, Robert Miller (Moderator: Shirley Sneve)
Robert Miller, "Building Sustainable Economies and Reservations"
7. Lied Center for Performing Arts, Lied Commons: "Returning Lands for Repatriation and Cultural Empowerment" (Moderator: Jess Shoemaker)
Roger Welsch, "Indian Giving: The Final Selfishness" 
James Riding In, "Changing an Oppressive Paradigm"

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. | various locations: Concurrent sessions
8. Lied Center for Performing Arts, Steinart Room: "Breaking the Silence on 1970s Wounded Knee"
Panel: Stew Magnuson, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Beatty Brasch (Moderator: Leonika Charging)
9. Sheldon Museum of Art, Abbott Auditorium: "Celebrating the Ho-Chunk Story" - Lance Morgan (Moderator: Rebekka Schlicting)

4 - 5:30 p.m. | Lied Center for Performing Arts, Lied Commons: "Many Stories, Many Voices" - multiple authors and their books

7:30 p.m. | Kimball Recital Hall: Buffy Sainte-Marie concert


The Center showed two free movies on Thursday, May 14, as part of the Symposium. 

The Cherokee Word For Water is a feature-length motion picture inspired by the true story of the struggle for, opposition to, and ultimate success of a rural Cherokee community to bring running water to their families by using the traditional concept of “gadugi" – working together to solve a problem.

Standing Bear's Footsteps is an NET production that tells the story of the Ponca Nation’s exile from Nebraska to the malaria-infested plains of Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma.

Buffy Sainte-Marie Concert

Native American folk singer, Grammy-winning songwriter, former “Sesame Street” regular, and member of Cree Nation, Buffy Sainte-Marie performed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on May 15 at Kimball Recital Hall as part of the Standing Bear and the Trail Ahead Symposium, sponsored by the Center for Great Plains Studies and the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.