Some Things Are Not Forgotten: A Pawnee Family Remembers

Some Things Are Not Forgotten: A Pawnee Family Remembers

Some Things Are Not Forgotten: A Pawnee Family Remembers

Some Things Are Not Forgotten: A Pawnee Family Remembers

Synopsis

The Blaine family were among the Pawnees forcibly removed to Indian Territory in 1874-75. By the early twentieth century, disease and starvation had wiped out nearly three-quarters of the reservation's population. Government boarding schools refused to teach Pawnee customs and language, and many Pawnees found themselves without a community when their promised land was allotted to individuals and the rest sold as "surplus" to white settlers. Where did the Blaine family find the resilience to cope with the continual assault on their dignity and way of life? In Some Things Are Not Forgotten, Martha Royce Blaine reveals the strengths of character and culture that enabled them to persevere during the reservation years. Many memorable figures emerge: Wichita and Effie Blaine, anguished over the deaths of two young sons and driven to embrace the Ghost Dance; John Box, whose persistent attempts to farm the white man's way are shattered in one disastrous moment by a tornado; James G. Blaine, an aspiring ballplayer whose mysterious death in jail ends his bid to join the Chicago White Sox. We also meet the young, educated James Murie, striding a conflict-ridden path between the Pawnee and white worlds. Perhaps most unforgettable are the childhood memories of Garland Blaine, the late husband of the author, who became head chief of the Pawnees in 1964.

Excerpt

For many centuries Garland Blaine's people, the Pawnees, lived in Nebraska and Kansas in earth lodge villages surrounded by their fields of corn, beans, squash, and other crops. Archaeologists have found Pawnee village sites along the Platte, Loup, Beaver, Blue, Republic, and Smoky Hill streams and rivers. The annual subsistence cycle of the Pawnees consisted of planting fields in the spring, hunting buffalo on distant plains in the summer, harvesting, preparing, and storing their crops in the autumn, and returning to the plains once again as a village and band for the winter hunt. At one time, before the advent of the European colonial powers -- the Spanish, French, and English -- the estimated population of the tribe ranged between ten thousand people and twenty thousand or more. Their political system divided the tribe into four bands: the Chawi, Pitahawirata, Kitkahahki, and Skiri (Skidi). Each band occupied its own locality, called itself a tribe (akitaru), and was governed by a council of chiefs, one of whom was the head chief.

The Pipe Ceremony (Hako) established and maintained friendly relations with neighboring tribes such as the Otoes and Omahas in Nebraska. To accomplish this certain Pawnee band members visited another tribe to adopt a high-ranking member, such as a chief's child, during several days of ceremonies. This action sought to establish a kinlike relationship and build alliances to avoid hostility. When hostile nomadic Sioux bands entered the northern part of Pawnee territory after the mid-nineteenth century, however, war became a constant factor in the Pawnees' lives.

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