Saturday, May 25, 2019
George Catlin (1796 –1872) A Pawnee Warrior Sacrificing His Favorite Horse
Historically, the Pawnee lived in villages of earth lodges with adjacent farmlands near the Loup, Republican, & South Platte rivers. The Pawnee tribal economic activities throughout the year alternated between farming crops & hunting buffalo. In the early 19th century, the Pawnee numbered more than 10,000 people & were one of the largest & most powerful tribes in the west. Although dominating the Loup (ickariʾ) & Platte (kíckatuus) river areas for centuries, they later suffered from increasing encroachment & attrition by their numerically superior, nomadic enemies: the Sioux (or Lakota (páhriksukat / paahíksukat) ("cut throat / cuts the throat"), Cheyenne (sáhe / sáhi), & Arapaho (sáriʾitihka) ("dog eater"); the Pawnee called these collectively as cárarat ("enemy tribe") or cahriksuupiíruʾ ("enemy"). The Pawnee were occasionally at war with the Comanche (raaríhtaʾ) & Kiowa (káʾiwa) farther south. They had suffered many losses due to Eurasian infectious diseases brought by the expanding Europeans, & by 1860, the Pawnee population was reduced to 4,000.
The Pawnee had a sedentary lifestyle combining village life & seasonal hunting, which had long been established on the Plains. Archeology studies of ancient sites have demonstrated the people lived in this pattern for nearly 700 years, since about 1250 CE. The Pawnee generally settled close to the rivers and placed their lodges on the higher banks. They built earth lodges that by historical times tended to be oval in shape; at earlier stages, they were rectangular. They constructed the frame, made of 10–15 posts set some 10 feet (3.0 m) apart, which outlined the central room of the lodge. Lodge size varied based on the number of poles placed in the center of the structure. Most lodges had 4, 8, or 12 center-poles. A common feature in Pawnee lodges were four painted poles, which represented the four cardinal directions and the four major star gods (not to be confused with the Creator). A second outer ring of poles outlined the outer circumference of the lodge. Horizontal beams linked the posts together.
The frame was covered first with smaller poles, tied with willow withes. The structure was covered with thatch, then earth. A hole left in the center of the covering served as a combined chimney / smoke vent and skylight. The door of each lodge was placed to the east and the rising sun. A long, low passageway, which helped keep out outside weather, led to an entry room that had an interior buffalo-skin door on a hinge. It could be closed at night and wedged shut. Opposite the door, on the west side of the central room, a buffalo skull with horns was displayed. This was considered great medicine.
Mats were hung on the perimeter of the main room to shield small rooms in the outer ring, which served as sleeping and private spaces. The lodge was semi-subterranean, as the Pawnee recessed the base by digging it approximately three feet (one meter) below ground level, thereby insulating the interior from extreme temperatures. Lodges were strong enough to support adults, who routinely sat on them, and the children who played on the top of the structures. As many as 30–50 people might live in each lodge, and they were usually of related families. A village could consist of as many as 300–500 people and 10–15 households. Each lodge was divided in two (the north and south), and each section had a head who oversaw the daily business. Each section was further subdivided into three duplicate areas, with tasks and responsibilities related to the ages of women and girls, as described below. The membership of the lodge was quite flexible.
The tribe went on buffalo hunts in summer and winter. Upon their return, the inhabitants of a lodge would often move into another lodge, although they generally remained within the village. Men's lives were more transient than those of women. They had obligations of support for the wife (and family they married into), but could always go back to their mother and sisters for a night or two of attention. When young couples married, they lived with the woman's family in a matrilocal pattern.
The Pawnee are a matrilineal people. Ancestral descent is traced through the mother, and children are considered born into the mother's clan and are part of her people. Traditionally, a young couple moved into the bride's parents' lodge. People work together in collaborative ways, marked by both independence and cooperation, without coercion. Both women and men are active in political life, with independent decision-making responsibilities.
Within the lodge, each north-south section had areas marked by activities of the three classes of women:
Mature women (usually married and mothers), who did most of the labor;
Young single women, just learning their responsibilities; and
Older women, who looked after the young children.
Women tended to be responsible for decisions about resource allocation, trade, and inter-lodge social negotiations. Men were responsible for decisions which pertained to hunting, war, and spiritual/health issues. Women tended to remain within a single lodge, while men would typically move between lodges. They took multiple sexual partners in serially monogamous relationships.
The Pawnee women were skilled horticulturalists & cooks, cultivating & processing ten varieties of corn, seven of pumpkins & squashes, & eight of beans. They planted their crops along the fertile river bottom-lands. These crops provided a wide variety of nutrients & complemented each other in making whole proteins. In addition to varieties of flint corn & flour corn for consumption, the women planted an archaic breed which they called "Wonderful" or "Holy Corn", specifically to be included in the sacred bundles. The holy corn was cultivated & harvested to replace corn in the sacred bundles prepared for the major seasons of winter & summer. Seeds were taken from sacred bundles for the spring planting ritual. The cycle of corn determined the annual agricultural cycle, as it was the first to be planted & first to be harvested (with accompanying ceremonies involving priests & men of the tribe as well.)
In keeping with their cosmology, the Pawnee classified the varieties of corn by color: black, spotted, white, yellow, & red (which, excluding spotted, related to the colors associated with the four semi-cardinal directions). The women kept the different strains separate as they cultivated the corn. While important in agriculture, squash & beans were not given the same theological meaning as corn.
After they obtained horses, the Pawnee adapted their culture & expanded their buffalo hunting seasons. With horses providing a greater range, the people traveled in both summer & winter westward to the Great Plains for buffalo hunting. They often traveled 500 miles (800 km) or more in a season. In summer the march began at dawn or before, but usually did not last the entire day.
Once buffalo were located, hunting did not begin until the tribal priests considered the time propitious. The hunt began by the men stealthily advancing together toward the buffalo, but no one could kill any buffalo until the warriors of the tribe gave the signal, in order not to startle the animals before the hunters could get in position for the attack on the herd. Anyone who broke ranks could be severely beaten. During the chase, the hunters guided their ponies with their knees & wielded bows & arrows. They could incapacitate buffalo with a single arrow shot into the flank between the lower ribs & the hip. The animal would soon lie down & perhaps bleed out, or the hunters would finish it off. An individual hunter might shoot as many as five buffalo in this way before backtracking & finishing them off. They preferred to kill cows & young bulls, as the taste of older bulls was disagreeable.
After successful kills, the women processed the bison meat, skin & bones for various uses: the flesh was sliced into strips & dried on poles over slow fires before being stored. Prepared in this way, it was usable for several months. Although the Pawnee preferred buffalo, they also hunted other game, including elk, bear, panther, & skunk, for meat & skins. The skins were used for clothing & accessories, storage bags, foot coverings, fastening ropes & ties, etc.
The people returned to their villages to harvest crops when the corn was ripe in late summer, or in the spring when the grass became green & they could plant a new cycle of crops. Summer hunts extended from late June to about the first of September; but might end early if hunting was successful. Sometimes the hunt was limited to what is now western Nebraska. Winter hunts were from late October until early April & were often to the southwest into what is now western Kansas.
Like many other Native American tribes, the Pawnee had a cosmology with elements of all of nature represented in it. They based many rituals in the four cardinal directions. Pawnee priests conducted ceremonies based on the sacred bundles that included various materials, such as an ear of sacred corn, with great symbolic value. These were used in many religious ceremonies to maintain the balance of nature & the Pawnee relationship with the gods & spirits. In the 1890s, already in Oklahoma, the people participated in the Ghost Dance movement.
The Pawnee believed that the Morning Star & Evening Star gave birth to the first Pawnee woman. The first Pawnee man was the offspring of the union of the Moon & the Sun. As they believed they were descendants of the stars, cosmology had a central role in daily & spiritual life. They planted their crops according to the position of the stars, which related to the appropriate time of season for planting. Like many tribal bands, they sacrificed maize & other crops to the stars.
The ancestors of the Pawnees were speakers of Caddoan languages, who had developed a semi-sedentary neolithic lifestyle in valley-bottom lands on the Great Plains. Unlike other groups of the Great Plains, they had a stratified society with priests & hereditary chiefs. Their religion included cannibalism & human sacrifice.
At first contact, they were distributed widely through modern Oklahoma & Kansas, & they reached modern Nebraska about 1750. (Other Caddoan-speakers lived to the south, in modern Texas, forming a belt of related populations along the eastern edge of the Great Plains.)
Their unfortified villages of well-scattered grass lodges & earth lodges reflected an assumption that large raiding parties would not arrive without warning; their inhabitants could not rapidly co-ordinate defence against a large party of enemies. The Pawnees, with the Wichita & Arikara, were the only Caddoan groups to survive the era of iron, firearms, & horses, & they all did so by forming compact villages on high ground & surrounding them with ditch & wall defences.[ Most of the year was spent in these well-insulated homes, but many would go on communal deer hunts several days' travel from their homes. Some would even hunt buffalo, though without horses this was difficult & dangerous.
About 1670 the Apaches of the Southern Plains obtained horses & metal weapons in sufficient quantity to make them the dread of all their neighbors. For some decades the Pawnees were the victims of intensive raiding by large bands of mounted Apaches with iron weapons, & also by war parties of Chickasaws & Choctaws from the east who had firearms as well. The Siouan groups that became Quapaws, Osages, Omahas, Poncas & Kansas also appeared on the Plains about this time, driven west by the expansion of the Iroquois, & they too raided the Pawnees. Archaeology indicates that pressure from hostile Apaches may have persuaded the Skidi Pawnees to move from their settlements on the Republican River to the upper Loup River in the course of the next century or so.[ Their settlement pattern also changed from little villages of small rectangular earth-lodges to more defensible larger, compact villages of larger, circular lodges, the Skidis uniting in this way about 1680 while their close relations the Arikaras established a separate identity.
The main form of loot was women & children, to be sold as slaves. In 1694, Apaches brought a large number of captive children to the trading fair in New Mexico, but for some reason there were not enough buyers, so the Apaches beheaded all their slaves in full view of the Spaniards. In French Canada, Indian slaves were generally called Panis (anglicized to Pawnee), as most, during this period, had been captured from the Pawnee tribe or their relations. Pawnee became synonymous with "Indian slave" in general use in Canada, & a slave from any tribe came to be called Panis. As early as 1670, a reference was recorded to a Panis in Montreal. By 1757 Louis Antoine de Bougainville considered that the Panis nation "plays ... the same role in America that the Negroes do in Europe." The historian Marcel Trudel documented that close to 2,000 "panis" slaves lived in Canada until the abolition of slavery in the colony in 1833. Indian slaves comprised close to half of the known slaves in French Canada (also called Lower Canada).
By 1719 when de la Harpe led an expedition to Caddoan lands at the mouth of the Arkansas River, the Pawnees had also acquired horses & metal weapons from French traders, & they were attacking Apaches in turn, destroying their villages & carrying off Apache women & children. In 1720, Boisbriant reported that the Paniassas or Black Pawnees had recently captured a hundred Apaches, whom they were burning, a few each day. de la Harpe planned to establish French trading posts at the mouth of the Canadian River & elsewhere in Caddoan territory, but this was not done & the Pawnee remained dependent on infrequent & casual traders, while their enemies – the Osages – benefited from a regular trade.
In 1720, the Villasur expedition was sent to the Pawnees in an attempt to wean the tribe away from their French connections (which had been greatly magnified in Spanish imagination). Guided mainly by Apaches, & led by an officer without experience of Indians, the expedition approached the Skidi Pawnee villages along the outflow of the Loup River into the Platte River in modern Nebraska. The expedition sent their only Pawnee slave to make contact; he did not obtain any welcome for the Spanish party & he shortly failed to return to the Spanish camp. The Pawnees attacked at dawn, shooting heavy musketry fire & flights of arrows, then charging into combat clad only in paint, headband, moccasins & short leggings. Villasur, forty-five other Spaniards & eleven Pueblos were killed, & the survivors fled. In 1721, pressure on the Pawnees was increased by the establishment of a colony in Arkansas by John Law's Mississippi Company; this settlement too formed a market for Indian (mostly Caddoan) slaves & a convenient source of weapons for the Osages & their relations.
The French responded by sending Bourgmont to make peace (in the French interest) between the Pawnees & their enemies in 1724. He reported that the Pawnee were a strong tribe & good horsemen, but, located at the far end of every trade route for European goods, were unfamiliar with Europeans & were treated like country bumpkins by their southern relatives. The mutual hatred between Pawnees & Apaches was so great that both sides were cooking & eating many of their captives. Bourgmont's "peace" had little effect.
In 1739 the Mallet brothers visited the Skidi Pawnee. In 1750 the Skidis were reported to be ruled by a grand chief who had 900 warriors. From about 1760, smallpox epidemics broke out on the Great Plains, reducing the Skidi from eight large villages in 1725 to one by 1800.
A Pawnee tribal delegation visited President Thomas Jefferson. In 1806 Lieutenant Zebulon Pike, Major G. C. Sibley, Major S. H. Long, among others, began visiting the Pawnee villages. Under pressure from Siouan tribes & European-American settlers, the Pawnee ceded territory to the United States government in treaties in 1818, 1825, 1833, 1848, 1857, & 1892. In 1857, they settled on the Pawnee Reservation along the Loup River in present-day Nance County, Nebraska, but maintained their traditional way of life. They were subjected to continual raids by Lakota from the north & west.
Until the 1830s, the Pawnee in what became United States territory were relatively isolated from interaction with Europeans. As a result, they were not exposed to Eurasian infectious diseases, such as measles, smallpox, & cholera, to which Native Americans had no immunity. In the 19C, however, they were pressed by Siouan groups encroaching from the east, who also brought diseases. Epidemics of smallpox & cholera, & endemic warfare with the Sioux & Cheyenne caused dramatic mortality losses among the Pawnee. From an estimated population of 12,000 in the 1830s, they were reduced to 3,400 by 1859, when they were forcibly constrained to a reservation in modern-day Nance County, Nebraska.
The Pawnees in the village of Chief Blue Coat suffered a severe defeat on 27 June 1843. A force of Lakotas attacked the village, killed more than 65 inhabitants & burned 20 earth lodges. In 1852, a combined Indian force of Cheyennes & invited Kiowa & Kiowa Apaches attacked a Pawnee camp in Kansas during the summer hunt. First when a Pawnee shot a very reckless Cheyenne with an arrow in the eye, it was discovered he wore a hidden scalemailed armor under his shirt. The killing of this notable Cheyenne affected the Cheyennes to the point, that they carried their Sacred Arrows against the Pawnee the following summer in an all-out war.
Warriors enlisted as Pawnee Scouts in the latter half of the 19C in the United States Army. Like other groups of Native American scouts, Pawnee warriors were recruited in large numbers to fight on the Northern & Southern Plains in various conflicts against hostile Native Americans. Because the Pawnee people were old enemies of the Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche & Kiowa tribes, they served with the army for fourteen years between 1864 & 1877, earning a reputation as being a well-trained unit, especially in tracking & reconnaissance. The Pawnee Scouts took part with distinction in the Battle of the Tongue River during the Powder River Expedition (1865) against Lakota, Cheyenne & Arapaho & in the Battle of Summit Springs. They also fought with the US in the Great Sioux War of 1876. On the Southern Plains they fought against their old enemies, the Comanches & Kiowa, in the Comanche Campaign.
The Pawnee were subjected to continual raids by Lakota from the north & west. On one such raid, 5 August 1873, a Sioux war party of over 1,000 warriors ambushed a Pawnee hunting party of 350 men, women, & children. The Pawnee had gained permission to leave the reservation & hunt buffalo. About 70 Pawnee were killed in this attack, which occurred in a canyon in present-day Hitchcock County. The site is known as Massacre Canyon. Because of the ongoing hostilities with the Sioux & encroachment from American settlers to the south & east, the Pawnee decided to leave their Nebraska reservation in the 1870s & settle on a new reservation in Indian Territory, located in what is today Oklahoma.
In 1874, the Pawnee requested relocation to Indian Territory (Oklahoma), but the stress of the move, diseases & poor conditions on their reservation reduced their numbers even more. During this time, outlaws often smuggled whiskey to the Pawnee. The teenaged female bandits Little Britches & Cattle Annie were imprisoned for this crime. In 1875 most members of the nation moved to Indian Territory, a large area reserved to receive tribes displaced from east of the Mississippi River & elsewhere. The warriors resisted the loss of their freedom & culture, but gradually adapted to reservations. On 23 November 1892, the Pawnee in Oklahoma were forced by the US federal government to sign an agreement with the Cherokee Commission to accept individual allotments of land in a breakup of their communal holding. By 1900, the Pawnee population was recorded by the US Census as 633.