In 1879, a full 75 years before the Supreme Court issued its monumental decision in Brown v. Board of Education, a Ponca chief named Standing Bear stood up, extended his hand, and made a speech:
“This hand is not the color of yours, but if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you also feel pain. The blood that will flow from mine will be of the same color as yours. I am a man. The same God made us both.”
Standing Bear's argument convinced the federal judge to declare for the first time in the nation's history that Native Americans are "persons" under federal law, a declaration that contradicted decades of Indian policy.