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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

White Eagle, wearing an 1857 Peace Medal
(5012, Thomas N. Athey Collection, OHS).

WHITE EAGLE (ca. 1840–1914).

White Eagle was the hereditary chief of the Ponca Indians. In 1879, when Standing Bear and other Poncas returned to their Nebraska homeland to bury Standing Bear's deceased son, White Eagle led the Ponca who remained in Indian Territory on their assigned reservation. White Eagle reported to a congressional committee in 1880 that they had decided to remain in their adopted home.

White Eagle left a narrative of the Ponca removal from their lands along Nebraska's Niobrara River. He said, in part, "The soldiers . . . forced us across the Niobrara . . . just as one would drive a herd of ponies. . . . And so I reached the Warm Land [Oklahoma]. We found the land there was bad and we were dying, one after another, and . . . our animals died, and, oh, it was very hot. 'This land is truly sickly . . . and we hope the Great Father will take us back [home] again.' That is what we said. There were one hundred of us died there."

During ensuing years White Eagle and his followers overcame many hardships to make a home in Indian Territory. He was a progressive leader who favored allotment. A friend of the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch, White Eagle died on February 3, 1914, and was buried at White Eagle, a Kay County community named in his honor.

Bruce E. Johansen


Ellsworth Collings and Alma Miller England, The 101 Ranch (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971).

Bill Yenne and Susan Garratt, North American Indians (Hong Kong: Ottenheimer Publishers, 1993).

Charles Leroy Zimmerman, White Eagle: Chief of the Poncas (Harrisburg, Pa.: Telegraph Press, 1941).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Bruce E. Johansen, “White Eagle,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=WH005.

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