Research on the Pawnee Indians during the 1800’s

by Dr. Pelham Mead

The Pawnee Indians were farmers and hunters. They planted corn and other crops and then went hunting for buffalo during the summer. When they came back they harvested their crops. They lived in the Kansas and Montana area during the 1800’s. Before the white man arrived there were 10,000 pawnee. After small pox and other white man diseases and battles with the white men they were reduced to only 3,000 by the 1870’s. The Pawnee are one of the few Indian nations to never declare war against the white man and his government. They became Scouts for the Army and later joined the Union army as soldiers.

The Pawnees had a Morning Star human sacrifice ceremony the Indian agents tried to stop them from practicing. They would capture a young Indian woman and string her up between two trees and torture her with fire before they killed her with arrows. The body was taken and laid face down on the prairie for her blood to enrich the soil for a good growing season. The last Morning Star Sacrifice was in 1843.

In 1867 Sioux Indians were hunting for buffalo in Montana. About 1500 braves were part of the hunt. Nearby a small hunting party of Pawnee braves, women and children were also hunting buffalo. The Sioux braves attacked the Pawnees in a small canyon and massacred everyone of them including their chief Good Knife. After that massacre the Pawnee survivors decided to move south to Oklahoma to avoid the white men and Sioux at the request of the federal government. There were no buffalo in Oklahoma so the Pawnee had to learn new trades in order to survive. The ground was to dry to plant vegetables. The only thing to hunt was deer and other small animals.

The Pawnee are considered the Wolf nation of native Americans and many stories about Wolves and Pawnees are most common.

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