Page:The Indian Dispossessed.pdf/159

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THE REMOVAL OF THE PONCAS

"I see you all here to-day. What have I done? I am brought here, but what have I done? I don't know. It seems as though I have n't a place in the world, no place to go, and no home to go to." Chief Standing Bear.

SPREAD out the map of the state of South Dakota; begin at the southeastern corner, and follow up the Missouri River to the mouth of the Niobrara; then up the river again, only a finger's breadth, to Ponca Creek. If the map is one of the present day, the name of Ponca will attach only to the creek, for that flows on forever; if it is a map of fifteen years ago, a small strip of land between Ponca Creek and the Niobrara River may bear the name "Ponca Indian Reservation." If so, it is only because the name clings to the country that had belonged to the Ponca Indians a dozen years before.

But twenty-eight years ago, and one hundred years ago, and how much longer ago nobody knows, for the white man's history of that region dates no farther back, the Ponca Indians dwelt in this fertile country of wooded valleys and upland prairies, a little band distinct from all the Indians around. During all those years they maintained their country

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