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(pônē`), Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Caddoan branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock (see Native American languagesNative American languages,
languages of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and their descendants. A number of the Native American languages that were spoken at the time of the European arrival in the New World in the late 15th cent.
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). At one time the Pawnee lived in what is now Texas, but by 1541, when Coronado visited Quivira, they seem to have been settled in the valley of the Platte River in S Nebraska. By the early 18th cent. the Pawnee had divided into four groups: the Skidi (or Wolf), the Grand, the Republican, and the Tapage (or Noisy). They then numbered some 10,000. By the time French traders settled (c.1750) among them, the Pawnee had extended their territory to the Republican River in N Kansas and the Niobrara River in N Nebraska. In 1806, Spanish soldiers visited the Pawnee just before the arrival of the expedition of Zebulon M. Pike.

In material culture the Pawnee resembled other Native Americans of the Plains area but they had an elaborate set of myths and rituals. Their supreme god was Tirawa (the sun), who with Mother Earth conceived Morning Star. Morning Star was the rising and dying god of vegetation. The Pawnee periodically sacrificed a young woman to Morning Star. This custom, one of the few examples of human sacrifice N of Mexico, was, however, ended by the great Pawnee chief Pitalesharo (b. c.1797).

The Pawnee were hostile to the Sioux and the Cheyenne, although friendly toward the Oto. They were fierce fighters, but they never warred against the United States, even when treated unjustly by the government. In fact, the Pawnee provided scouts for the U.S. army in the Indian warsIndian wars,
in American history, general term referring to the series of conflicts between Europeans and their descendants and the indigenous peoples of North America. Early Conflicts
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 as well as protecting the Union Pacific RR from the depredations of other Native Americans. Pawnee population was reduced by wars with the Sioux and by the smallpox and cholera epidemics of the 1830s and 1840s. By a series of treaties begun early in the 19th cent. the Pawnee ceded all of their land in Nebraska and in 1876 moved to a reservation in Oklahoma, where they were granted the right to own their land individually. In 1990 there were over 3,300 Pawnee in the United States.


See R. Linton, The Sacrifice to the Morning Star by the Skidi Pawnee (1922); W. Wedel, An Introduction to Pawnee Archeology (1936); G. Weltfish, The Lost Universe (1965); G. E. Hyde, The Pawnee Indians (rev. ed. 1973).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a confederacy of four North American Indian tribes that speak Caddo, a language of the Iroquois-Caddoan family. The Pawnee numbered approximately 10,000 between the 16th and 18th centuries, occupying a vast territory that extended from what is now Nebraska to Texas. Their economy was based primarily on buffalo hunting and farming. Settlers began seizing Pawnee lands in 1800, and the Pawnee were moved to reservations in Oklahoma in 1876. Today there are fewer than 1,200 Pawnee, of whom approximately two-thirds are half-breeds.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
One day a Pawnee man came to him and asked him if he would make some medicine and cast a spell on a certain young lady whose attentions he sought but who had rejected him to that point.
In comparing Pawnee legends, myth's, beliefs with those of other Native American tribes, it is discovered that the belief in witchcraft appears in many tribes, although there are differences in its expression and practice.
At one time during a Pawnee and Cheyenne hostile encounter a Cheyenne was seriously wounded.
At one time, Effie Blaine, Garland's grandmother, took care of Old Man High Eagle, who had been a Pawnee Scout with Wichita Blaine.
Another Pawnee said that somebody capable of using bad medicine and had used it on you, that after you were cured, he would be the first person to come up to you on the street, be glad to see you, shake your hand, and tell you he had just come from out of town to visit.
I then asked if there were witches in the Pawnee tribe or some place else.
In commenting on John's voice loss, another Pawnee asserted that he had lost his voice because he followed too many roads.
The churches' influence on the Pawnee belief in witching came with its teaching about the devil.
Once at the end of a Pawnee church service, the preacher called for those who wanted to dedicate their lives to God to come forward to the front of the church.
Prior to this, the husband's sister-in-law who had left her husband because he was abusive, visited one of the Pawnee women who later went to the sick woman s--home.
Soon after returning home, one of the Pawnee women began to have intense pains in her right leg, so severe that it became difficult to walk.
Witching sources and victims included not only members of the Pawnee tribe but other tribes as well as illustrated by the accusation made against the Choctaw person.