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'We were praying Standing Bear would not be targeted and he would be unharmed'
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'We were praying Standing Bear would not be targeted and he would be unharmed'

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When Judi gaiashkibos turned on her television to see the chaos inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs worried about her country.

And she worried about Chief Standing Bear.

In September 2019, the leader of the Ponca people had been immortalized in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, his bronze hand outstretched — as it was in an Omaha courtroom in 1879 in a landmark civil rights case, declaring to the judge: “I am a man. The same god made us both.”

Gaiashkibos was there in 2019, a leader in the effort to have Standing Bear’s likeness represent Nebraska in Washington.

Last week, on the day Congress was set to certify election results confirming Joe Biden’s victory, she had been in a meeting and drove by the north side of the Nebraska Capitol, shocked to see Stop the Steal demonstrators.

Her daughter, Katie Brossy, an attorney in D.C. who had worked hundreds of hours to help navigate regulations and details for the 2019 ceremony, called to tell her about the insurrection inside the U.S. Capitol.

“We were praying Standing Bear would not be targeted and he would be unharmed,” gaiashkibos said Thursday.

She reached out to Congressman Jeff Fortenberry’s office on Jan. 7 and was assured that Fortenberry had gone to the hall to check on the 9-foot statue.

Fortenberry’s chief of staff emailed her a photograph of the unharmed statue, which gaiashkibos sent along to Standing Bear sculptor Ben Victor, benefactor Don Campbell and Ponca Chairman Larry Wright Jr.

And when word came that state capitols should be ready for armed protesters this Sunday, gaiashkibos and the Indian Commission removed several 3-foot replicas of the statue from the Nebraska Capitol and are storing them in a secure location.

She feels very protective of Standing Bear and all he stands for, she said.

“To think he endured so much in his life and was truly a brave leader, not a cowardly terrorist like those who took over the Capitol, and then in a sense he had to witness this.”


Reach the writer at 402-473-7218 or

On Twitter @TheRealCLK



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