Pawnee - Orientation

Identification. The Pawnee are an American Indian group currently living in Oklahoma. The name "Pawnee" comes from the term pariki, or "horn," and refers to the traditional manner of dressing the hair in which the scalp-lock is stiffened with fat and paint and made to stand erect like a curved horn. The Pawnee called themselves "Chahiksichahiks," meaning "men of men."

Location. Throughout much of the historic period the Pawnee inhabited the territory centered in the valleys of the Loup and Platte rivers and along the Republican River in what is now the state of Nebraska in the central United States. In 1874-1875 they moved from this territory to Reservation lands in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). The Region of the Loup, Platte, and Republican rivers consists largely of high and dry grass-covered plains interrupted by rivers and river valleys and is characterized by a subhumid climate. Trees are nearly absent except along the river courses.

Demography. In the early part of the nineteenth century the Pawnee numbered between 9,000 and 10,000. Subsequently, the population declined because of warfare and European diseases; smallpox epidemics in 1803 and 1825 were especially devastating. In 1859 the population was estimated at 4,000, in 1876 at 2,000, and in 1900 at 650. The population subsequently increased to over 2,000 today.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Pawnee language belongs to the Caddoan linguistic family.

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