Choose the Chief
I'm sure that you are all aware that our U.S. Mint has a program to engrave quarters honoring all 50 states.
It started in 1999 and will end in 2008 with the issuance of five designs each year.
The states are recognized in the order that they were admitted to the union, starting with Delaware and ending with Hawaii, that became a state in 1959.
I have a nice coin book that displays each state's quarter under the year that they were issued. As of this writing, we have only 31 of the 50 quarters. The quarter for Nebraska probably will come out in March of 2006 as the 37th state admitted to the union.
To choose a design, state officials conducted a statewide contest to come up with a suitable depiction for the Nebraska quarter. A group of officials has narrowed the designs to four, including a covered wagon by Chimney Rock, the sower on the capitol and Chief Standing Bear. It will be up to the governor to make a final selection in the near future.
It seems to me that the citizens across Nebraska should have some input in this rare opportunity for nationwide recognition. License plates come and go, but a state coin might not happen again. With that in mind, I have been lobbying for the likeness of Chief Standing Bear on our Nebraska quarter.
There is a long story about how he was arrested for wanting to bury his son in Nebraska after the Ponca Indians were evicted to Oklahoma.
During his trial in 1879, conducted by Judge Elmer Dundy, the court held that an Indian was a person entitled to equal protection of the law.
Therefore, the quarter will also carry the phrase "equality before the law."
This is a wonderful chapter in our rich history that recognizes our real heritage in Nebraska. Indian folks were living on these plains long before the rest of us came along.
One can't drive through Massacre Canyon or visit Dundy County without thinking about the historical significance.
We all know that the word Nebraska has Indian origins.
Let's encourage Gov. Heineman to choose Chief Standing Bear for our quarter to help us teach the lessons learned here.