A Pawnee Vision of the Future

  • Colin G. Calloway
Part of the The Bedford Series in History and Culture book series (BSHC)


Hollywood has treated the Pawnee Indians of Nebraska badly. In both Little Big Man (1970) and Dances with Wolves (1990), films that generally present Indians in a favorable light, the Pawnees are portrayed as villains. The Pawnees in Dances with Wolves are one-dimensional stereotypes, playing violent villains to Kevin Costner’s Lakota heroes; ironically, the Pawnees are playing roles identical to those the Lakotas used to play when the heroes were all white. In reality, the Pawnees were a sophisticated people who sought to order their universe and renew their world through complex rituals.


Wild Animal Favorable Light Indian Agent Pawnee Vision Complex Ritual 
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  1. 1.
    Gene Weltfish, The Lost Universe: The Way of Life of the Pawnee (New York: Ballantine Books, 1971), 97–98, 200, 207, 243;Google Scholar
  2. Douglas R. Parks, ed., Ceremonies of the Pawnee by James R. Murie (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989), 39–42;Google Scholar
  3. Douglas R. Parks and Waldo R. Wedel, “Pawnee Geography: Historical and Sacred,” Great Plains Quarterly 5 (1985), 143–76;Google Scholar
  4. Richard White, “The Cultural Landscape of the Pawnees,” Great Plains Quarterly 2 (1982), 31–40; and The Roots of Dependency: Subsistence, Environment and Social Change among the Choctaw, Pawnee and Navajo (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983), 171–73.Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    Martha Royce Blaine, Pawnee Passage: 1870–1875 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990), 66, 84–86, 94; Sixth Annual Report of the Board of Indian Commissioners for the Year 1874 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Printing Office, 1875), 102; Ninth Annual Report of the Board of Indian Commissioners for 1877 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Printing Office, 1878), 56.Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    On the Quaker missionaries’ “record of failure and frustration” among the Pawnees and their neighbors, see Clyde A. Milner, II, With Good Intentions: Quaker Work among the Pawnees, Otos, and Omahas in the 1870s (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1982).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© BEDFORD BOOKS of St. Martin’s Press 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin G. Calloway
    • 1
  1. 1.Dartmouth CollegeUSA

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