To commemorate the landmark 1879 trial of Ponca Chief Standing Bear vs. General George Crook, Douglas County Historical Society (DCHS) annually hosts an event that is free and open to the public. This year’s commemoration is set for Friday, May 10th at Historic Fort Omaha and will feature Native American food, dance, music and staged reading of Mary Kathryn Nagle’s newest play, In My Father’s Eyes..
The evening will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a reception featuring Native American food at the General Crook House Museum. Musician Michael Murphy will perform on guitar and Native American flutes. Elders from four Nebraska tribes – Winnebago, Ponca, Otoe and Omaha – will tell stories in tepees provided by Dreams of Eagles, an intertribal cultural organization that promotes the preservation of tribal customs, traditions and languages.
At 6:30 p.m. the Many Moccasins Dance Troupe, an ensemble of professional performers based in Winnebago, Nebraska, will perform traditional Native dances with their own unique theatrical twist.
Festivities will shift at 7:15 p.m. to the Swanson Conference Center, on the second floor of Metropolitan Community College’s Institute for the Culinary Arts. An art exhibition will feature Illinois artist Jan Rockwell’s “Ponca Chief Portraits,” which are based on an 1877 photograph of the Ponca delegation in Washington, D.C. She employed collage, mixed media and water-based paints brushed on various papers and fibers in creating the 10 stylized representations, which are now owned by the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska.
A staged reading of In My Father’s Eyes by playwright and attorney Mary Kathryn Nagle will begin at 7:30 p.m. Last year nearly 400 people attended a reading of Waaxe’s Law at the DCHS Standing Bear commemorative event. An Oklahoma native, Nagle traces her lineage to the Cherokee nation. In My Father’s Eyes tells the story of Suzette LaFlesche, known as Bright Eyes. She was a frequent interpreter for Ponca Chief Standing Bear and was integral during the 1879 trial. After the trial, Bright Eyes accompanied Standing Bear on a speaking tour of the eastern United States, along with Frank LaFlesche, the brother of Bright Eyes, and Thomas Henry Tibbles, a deputy editor for the Omaha Daily Herald.
Following the reading, Nagle will be joined by Rodney Morris, Chairman of the Omaha Tribe, and others on a talkback panel that will explore the concepts of law and liberty as they existed in a post-Fourteenth Amendment America.
Reservations to this event are required due to limited seating. To RSVP, call DCHS at 402-455-9990, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit us on the web at DouglasCoHistory.org.
This program is funded in part by Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.
The Douglas County Historical Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The Mission of the Douglas County Historical Society is to collect, preserve and present to the public the history of Douglas County, Nebraska. The Douglas County Historical Society operates the General Crook House Museum and Library Archives Center at Historic Fort Omaha, 30th and Fort Streets. The museum, the authentically restored home of General George Crook, is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. The Library Archives Center is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the second Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.