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Lewis and Clark
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image: Pawnee Indians
Painting by Karl Bodmer/Gianni Dagli Orti/Corbis
Pawnee Indians

First Noted by Expedition
Fall 1804

The Corps expected to encounter the Pawnee long before they actually did. Unbeknownst to them, the Pawnee and other seminomadic tribes were on their biannual buffalo hunt. As part-time farmers, the Pawnee would plant crops in April and then pack up once the crops were established, staying in tepees while they hunted. The tribe would return in September for the harvest and depart again in October for the winter hunt.

The Pawnee lived in permanent villages of dome-shaped earthen lodges along the Platte River in present-day Nebraska. The lodges had long entrances to the east and each held about 30 to 50 members of an extended family. In the 1830s the population of the Pawnee was about 12,000. By 1906 epidemics had decimated the tribe and only about 650 remained. In 1875 they were moved to what was then the "Indian Territory"—now the state of Oklahoma—where most Pawnee still live.

From the discussions with Lewis, the Pawnee chiefs agreed to send three men to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Jefferson.

From the Expedition Journals

"From this evenings encampment a man may walk to the Pani Village on the S bank of the Platt River in two days."

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