Before the nineteenth century, the Pawnees were an agricultural people and part of a federation of plains tribes that lived in the area of the Platte River in what is now the state of Nebraska. The religion of the Pawnee, like many other tribal religions, reflected the dual-gendered nature of their deities. Tirawa Atius, their main deity, was a father figure; but corn, their foremost means of subsistence, was a sacred mother figure. The Pawnees believe in a powerful supernatural world, and the two stories that follow explain how the tribe learned that there was a spiritual world and an afterlife.
In a place where we used to have a village, a young woman died just before the tribe started on a hunt. When she died, they dressed her up in her finest clothes, and buried her, and soon after this the tribe started on a hunt.
A party of young men had gone off to visit another tribe, and they did not get back until after this girl had died and the tribe had left the village. Most of the party did not go back to the village, but met the tribe and went with them on the hunt. Among the young men who had been away was one who had loved this girl who had died. He went back alone to the village. It was empty and silent, but before he reached it, he could see, at a distance, someone sitting on top of a lodge. When he came near, he saw that it was the girl he loved. He did not know that she had died, and he wondered to see her there alone, for the time was coming when he would be her husband and she his wife. When she saw him coming, she came down from the top of the lodge and went inside.