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What are some facts about Pawnee Indians?

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Quick Answer

The Pawnee lived in what is currently Kansas and Nebraska and have lived in Oklahoma since being moved there by the U.S. Government in 1875. Ancestors of the Pawnee lived in the Great Plains region from approximately 1100 until they migrated to the Platte, Republican and Loup river valley regions.

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Full Answer

The Pawnee belong to the Caddoan language family of native tribes. The Pawnee had little contact with Europeans before the 18th century, except perhaps for a few Spanish explorers. During the 18th century the Pawnee, allied with the French, helped push back Spanish expansion on the Great Plains.

Control of Pawnee areas passed to the American government following the Louisiana purchase. The Pawnee reluctantly ceded territory to the American government, which eventually moved them to Oklahoma, where the Pawnee nation remains as of 2015. Smallpox and cholera significantly reduced Pawnee populations in the 19th century.

The Pawnee combined agriculture and hunting for their sustenance. Adult women did most of the work in villages, including planting and harvesting crops, such as corn, beans, pumpkins and squash. The men worked as medicine men or as warriors and hunters. Like other plains tribes, the Pawnee relied on the buffalo for meat and hides and used every part of the animal. Before the arrival of horses, the Pawnee traveled on foot, using dogs as pack animals.

The Pawnee built large, mostly permanent earthen villages near rivers. During the 19th century, many also added earthen ramparts for military protection. The Pawnee also created pottery, hide paintings and woven baskets with beautiful designs.

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