Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Description of the Pawnee Indians


The Pani stock was scattered irregularly from the Middle Missouri River to the Gulf of Mexico. The Pawnees proper occupied the territory from the Niobrara River south to the Arkansas. The Arikari branch had separated and migrated to the north at a comparatively recent period, while the Wichitas, Caddoes and Huecos roamed over Eastern Louisiana and Western Texas. The earliest traditions of all these peoples assign their priscan home toward the south, and the Pawnees remembered having driven the Dakota tribes from the hunting grounds of the Platte Basin.
The stock as a rule had an excellent physique, being tall and robust, with well-proportioned features, the lips thin and the eyes small. Longevity however was rare, and few of either sex reached the age of sixty. The division of the tribes was into bands and these into totems, but the gentile system did not prevail with much strength among them. The chieftainship of the bands was hereditary in the male line, and the power of the chief was almost absolute. He was surrounded by a body of retainers whom he supported, and who carried out his orders. When he wished a council these messengers carried the summons. Property as well as power passed to the family of the male, and widows were often deprived
 of everything and left in destitution. Marriage was a strictly commercial transaction, the woman being bought from her parents. The purchase effected, the bridegroom had a right to espouse all the younger sisters of his wife as they grew to maturity, if he felt so inclined. The laxity of the marriage rules of the stock was carried to its limit by the Arikaris, among whom it is said fathers united with their daughters and brothers with their sisters, without offending the moral sense of the community. This may have arisen after corruption by the whites.
Agriculture among them was more in favor than generally on the plains. Maize, pumpkins and squashes were cultivated, each family having its own field two or three acres in extent. For about four months of the year they were sedentary, dwelling in houses built of poles and bark covered with sods, while the remainder of the time they wandered over their hunting grounds, carrying with them tents of skins which were stretched on poles. The women manufactured a rude pottery and the men implements and weapons of wood and stone. The Arikaris were skilled in the construction of boats of skin stretched over wooden frames, an art they may have learned from the Mandans.

The dead were buried with their possessions, and the customs of mourning continued sometimes for years.

  • Anaddakkas, on left bank of Sabine river.
  • Arikaris, on the middle Missouri.
  • Assinais, in central Texas.
  • Caddoes, near Clear Lake, La.
  • Cenis, see Assinais.
  • Huecos, on the upper Brazos river.
  • Innies, see Texas.
  • Nachitoches, on upper Red river.
  • Natacos, see Anaddakkas.
  • Pawnees, between Niobrara and Arkansas rivers.
  • Tawakonies, on upper Leon river.
  • Texas, on upper Sabine river and branches.
  • Towachies, see Pawnees.
  • Wichitas, on north bank of Red river.
  • Yatasses, on Stony creek, an affluent of Red river.