Shop Windows to the Universe

Please help support Windows to the Universe, and our activities to help Earth and space science teachers, with a tax-exempt donation today!
A Pawnee brave named Petalesharow in classic headdress. He was painted by Charles B. King.
Click on image for full size
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.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, available in our online store, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Native American Astronomy

By 30,000 B.C,. Asian hunter-gatherers had crossed the Bering Strait into North America. These people were the first to inhabit this new land and so they are known as the Native Americans of North America....more

Archeoastronomy

"The movements of the heavenly bodies are an admirable thing, well known and manifest to all peoples. There are no people, no matter how barbaric and primitive, that do not raise up their eyes, take note,...more

The Stones of Carnac

The stones of Carnac, France, are probably the most famous stones markings outside of those found at Stonehenge in England. Where Stonehenge is composed of standing stones, the Carnac area has many different...more

The Cairns of Clava

Not too far from Loch Ness, where the green highlands of Scotland rise and fall there lies three giant cairns of stones. They are called the Balnuaran of Clava. The Balnuaran of Clava, giant tombs encased...more

Cuzco

This is an aerial view of Cuzco. In the center of the picture, the cathedral of Cuzco can be seen. This cathedral was built in the 17th century. Cuzco is located in Southern Peru. It is the ancient capital...more

The Stones of Fossa

The stone structures of England and France are very famous. But, one can also find stone rings, tombs, and dolmen structures in present-day Italy. One such megalithic structure is a site in Fossa, Abruzzo....more

Kepler's Second Law: The Speeds of Planets

Kepler's second law he again discovered by trial and error. After some experimentation, Kepler realized that the line connecting the planet and the Sun sweeps out equal area in equal time. Look at the...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF