An Introduction to Pawnee Archeology

An Introduction to Pawnee Archeology

An Introduction to Pawnee Archeology

An Introduction to Pawnee Archeology

Excerpt

The Pawnee have been known to white men since, probably, 1541, and certainly since 1678. They were the most numerous and powerful of the tribes constituting the Caddoan linguistic stock and one of the most important of the entire Plains area. Since the earliest definite historic mention of them they have been resident in Nebraska and the extreme northern portion of Kansas, particularly on the Loup, Platte, and Republican Rivers. As a tribe they were always friendly to the Europeans and later to the Americans, rendering invaluable aid as scouts in the Indian troubles on the Plains during the middle half of the nineteenth century; and that despite the half-hearted and tardy attentions that too often characterized the Government's relations with them.

The tribe has been variously described by early explorers, missionaries, fur traders, Army officers, and travelers, many of whom left very valuable and worth-while accounts concerning them in their native habitat in the Loup and Platte Valleys. In more recent years, on their reservation in Oklahoma, they have been studied by linguists and ethnologists, though much of this material is still unpublished. Of outstanding note among the available treatises in this field is the work of Dunbar in general ethnology, of Dorsey in mythology, of Grinnell in folk-tales, and of Murie in social and political organization. Archeological remains, surprisingly rich and numerous at many of the old village sites formerly occupied by the tribe, have received but little systematic attention up to the present, save for the excellent beginnings made by a few local collectors. Yet it is this latter, long-neglected field of research which must come to be more and more drawn upon for information regarding this fast-vanishing tribe and its native culture.

The primary purpose of this paper, as originally planned, was to present a purely objective preliminary report on the archeology of the Pawnee, drawing together all data at present available and recording it in systematic fashion. More or less inadvertently, the scope was broadened to include a review of the traditions dealing with the origin and early movements of the tribe, as well as a concise summary of the documentary history of the tribe from 1541 to 1876. To this were added brief notes on the environment of the group, and such other significant facts as may be helpful to an understanding of the subject. The social, political, and religious phases . . .

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