• Nebraska State Historical Society Seeks Artifacts Of Pawnee Indians From First Indian Agent -- The Massacre Canyon Battle

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    The PAWNEE Indians were perhaps the most religious group on the plains.  They were also the most populous tribe to live in Nebraska and they lived there longer than any other group.  It is estimated that 10,000 to 12,000 Pawnee were living in Nebraska by 1800. Because of their numbers, they had little to fear from their enemies but in the early 1800s, their fortunes began to change when Smallpox and other diseases reduced their numbers by half.  They were eventually forced to give up most of their lands in Nebraska and many eventually moved to a reservation in Oklahoma.

    WILLIAM WALTON was a trader among the Pawnee and considered an authority, which was recognized by Nebraska State Archeologist ELMER ELLSWORTH BLACKMAN of the Nebraska State Historical Society in Lincoln. Blackman came to Nebraska in 1892 and became principal of the school in Roca. He developed an interest in archeology and contributed articles based on his research to area newspapers.  Under his leadership as archeologist at the historical society, interest in archeology increased as did the number of artifacts the society received. He soon took charge of building the Museum collection and installing exhibits. He became recognized as an authority on Native American tribes of Nebraska.

    Offering two letters – ALS, TLS – from Blackman on Nebraska State Historical Society letterhead, each a single page and written to Walton, who was living in Baltimore on February 27 and March 20, 1902.

    ALS, “...The N.S.H.S. is collecting data in reference to the Pawnee Indians. You were the first agent at Genoa, if I am correctly informed, and we would like a brief biography and photograph of yourself as well as any data you may have in connection with the Pawnees or yourself while in our state.

    “The matter will be published in course of years but at present will be reduced to edited manuscript only...”

    TLS, “...I am pleased to learn that you will cooperate with us in gathering Pawnee data. From time to time as we find out specifically just what we want we will write you.

    “Just now I am writing up the battle which occurred near where Culbertson now stands, in 1873, in which John Williamson took a part. The fact is we want every thing bearing in any way on the history of the Pawnees and every thing you may be able to furnish, be it relics or data, will be appreciated by the society...Thanking you in advance for any favors you may show, and with gratitude for your kind interest, I am very truly, E.E. Blackman”

    The battle referenced by Blackman is the Massacre Canyon Battle, which took place in Nebraska on August 5, 1873 near the Republican River. It was one of the last hostilities between the Pawnee and the Sioux and the last battle/massacre between the Great Plains Indians in North America. The massacre occurred when a large Oglala/Brute Sioux war party of more than 1,500 warriors attacked a band of Pawnee during their summer buffalo hunt. In the ensuing rout, more than 150 Pawnees were killed, men, women and children, the victims suffering mutilation and some set on fire. The Quaker Agent John W. Williamson stated that 156 were killed.

    Folds. Slight smudging to Blackman’s signature at the end of the TLS.   

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