US senators join congressman's effort for Standing Bear Trail to mark tribe's forced journey

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OMAHA, Nebraska — Nebraska's U.S. senators have joined the effort to seek federal recognition for the trail the Ponca Tribe took during a forced march more than 135 years ago.

U.S. Sens. Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer introduced legislation Thursday calling on the Interior Department to determine the feasibility of creating a Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail. The legislation is similar to a bill that Rep. Jeff Fortenberry introduced earlier this month in the House.

The route taken in 1877 runs from the Niobrara River in Nebraska to near what now is Ponca City, Oklahoma, and back the Omaha site of the 1879 trial of Chief Standing Bear. The chief and his tribe became the first Native Americans to be recognized as people under the law in the federal court decision.

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