Pawnee Indians

Published on September 14, 2011 by Amy

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The Pawnee Indian Tribe
The Pawnee Indian Tribe

The Pawnee Indians are a native North American tribe. Sometimes known as the Paneassa, Pari, or Pariki, the Pawnees could be found along the Platte, Loup, and Republican Rivers of what is now known as Nebraska. They often called themselves “chaticks-si-chaticks,” which means “men of men.” Their tribe consisted of four bands: Chaui (Grand), Kitkehahki (Republican), Pitahauerat (Tappage), and Skidi (Wolf). The Chaui are recognized as the leading tribe.

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They grew crops of corn (maize), beans, pumpkins, and squash. They also played a very important part in limiting the Spanish expansion onto the Great Plains. They sided with the French and won a very important battle against the Spanish in 1720.

The men and women of the Pawnee Indians had very distinctive roles in every day life. The mature women did most of the labor while the younger women would learn the responsibilities and what was expected of them. The older women were in charge of looking after the younger children of the tribe while the other women worked. The men were divided into three groups: the medicine men/priests, the warriors and the hunters. The Pawnee Indians practiced a religion that tried to maintain a balance between the gods and nature. To have a good crop, they planted them according to the position of the stars, as they equated the stars with the gods. They were known to sacrifice maize and other crops to the gods, but may have also sacrificed humans up until the mid-eighteenth century.

An epidemic of both smallpox and cholera were responsible for wiping out most of the Pawnee Indians in the 19th century. By 1900, there were only 600 left. However, as recently as 2005, there were about 2,500 Pawnee Indians. Today’s Pawnee Indians meet biyearly for an inter-tribal gathering and celebrate their culture through craft shows and powwows.

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Did You Know?

John Bennett, of the Chickasaw Nation, was the first Native American in space. On the evening of Nov. 23, 2002 his Space Shuttle launched and he would spend the next 11 days in orbit.

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