How restoration of federal recognition restored Ponca tribe’s culture & economy

Twenty-five years after then-President George H.W. Bush signed the Ponca Restoration Act into law, the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska is going strong here in Northeast Nebraska.

President Bush signed the Ponca Restoration Act on Oct. 31, 1990, restoring federal recognition to the tribe after the U.S. government terminated the tribe in the 1960s. That termination meant that, in the eyes of the federal government, the Ponca no longer existed and that their remaining land and holdings were dissolved.

Losing federal recognition and then regaining it after years of struggle makes it mean more to the tribe.

The restoration has affected the tribe’s culture in a big way,Randy Teboe, the culture director for the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, said. “Since the restoration, the tribe is waking that sleeping culture up. We found our tribal identity — we are bringing our language and traditional ways back to the tribe. Even though it might seem like a slow process, we have made big steps and have continued to move forward.

In 25 years, I see the tribe having fluent Ponca speakers, more members learning our traditional ways, expanding the services that we provide to members, expanding our economic development and employing more Ponca members,” Teboe said.

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