A Pawnee brave named Petalesharow in classic headdress. He was painted by Charles B. King.
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Corel Photography

The Skidi Band of the Pawnee Tribe

The Skidi Band of the Pawnee tribe were among the most sophisticated starwatchers of North America. They originally lived in villages along the Loup and Platte rivers of central Nebraska. They were abruptly forced to move to reservations in Oklahoma at the end of the 1800's.

Even long ago, society in the Skidi Band was complex and hierarchical. Human hierarchy was based on the ranking of the star gods. You see, the Pawnee saw the stars as supernatural beings who interacted with humans. These stars or gods were ranked in order of importance. And human hierarchy and even the village layout was based on this star ranking.

The star ranking is as follows:

  • 1st - The Red Morning Star Warrior (probably Mars) who mated with female Evening Star (probably Venus) to produce the first humans
  • 2nd - The four gods who supported the heavens - they were located at NW, NE, SW, SE
  • 3rd - The Sun, the Moon, and then the gods of the four cardinal directions (N, E, S, W)

Much of Pawnee life was based on the stars in the heavens. They had shrines dedicated to certain stars. The first appearances of certain stars marked events for the life of the Pawnee. In fact, star appearances served as the only calendar for these people. The stars were so important that the Skidi Band began to note where the stars were in relation to each other. And so, the Skidi Band are known to have drawn star charts long ago.

The Pawnee people were adamant skywatchers because the sky and the heavens were so intertwined with their mythology, their rituals and even their social divisions.

Last modified September 9, 2000 by Jennifer Bergman.

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