A long and bitter journey which began in 1877 will be recreated this week. A South Dakota couple plan to travel the “Trail of Tears” left by the Ponca Tribe, when they were forcibly removed from their native home in Niobrara, NE.
Husband and wife, Robin Bair and Frances Zephier, will begin their travels on July 15th by crossing the Niobrara river and making the trek south to Oklahoma. The trip will begin at the gravesite of infamous Chief Standing Bear in Niobrara, NE and finish at the grave of Chief White Eagle in White Eagle, Oklahoma. This is a journey of over 700 miles and is estimated to take them 47 days.
The original journey cost the tribe a total of nine lives, many of which are buried in unknown locations. Standing Bear’s daughter, Prairie Flower was one of the lives lost, buried near Milford, Nebraska. The infant daughter of Black Elk and Moon Hawk, known as White Buffalo Girl, also perished and was buried in Neligh, Nebraska. This was very painful for the tribe, as it was not their custom to leave their ancestors behind.
The couple's goal is to unite the north and south tribes, which were separated when Standing Bear took a small group of his followers home to Nebraska to bury their dead. This spiritual walk is to bring back the spirit of the Ponca Tribe and to bring peace and healing to the people.
They are asking for support and donations through a Gofundme page and anyone is welcome to join them on their journey through the many communities they will be traveling.