- Associated Press - Thursday, October 8, 2015

MILFORD, Neb. (AP) - A Lincoln man is biking the route that the Ponca people were forced to march from Nebraska to Oklahoma in 1877.

David Fikar said Wednesday that his trip has been hard, but nothing as difficult as the tornadoes and floods that the Poncas faced.

“I’m trying to stay as true to the trail as I understand it,” Fikar told the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1jbUV5m ). “It has been rough.”

Fikar began his journey Sept. 7 in Niobrara at the Ponca Community Building. Except for a weeklong break, he has been riding his steel-frame Trek mountain bike south ever since.

He had made it as far as Milford by Wednesday and planned to head to Beatrice before taking the winter off and resuming the ride in the spring.



Fikar said an award given to him in 2009 sparked his desire to make the journey. That year, the Lincoln Commission on Human Rights gave him a Chief Standing Bear medallion in honor of his work as a commission member.

The route taken in 1877 runs from the Niobrara River in Nebraska to near what now is Ponca City, Oklahoma. In Omaha in 1879, Chief Standing Bear stood trial, after which the chief and his tribe became the first Native Americans to be recognized as people under the law in the federal court decision.

“Two of my passions in life are civil rights and baseball,” Fikar said. “The idea that Native Americans were not considered human beings just kind of blows my mind.”

Fikar retired from nursing in 2013, but grew bored and decided to take the journey.

So far, the 460-mile ride has been a struggle. The 45 pounds of equipment on the back of his bike has made climbing the hills near Niobrara tough. And he has spent most nights sleeping in his tent.

Fikar said he hopes to raise awareness of the effort to get the route designated as a national historic trail.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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