480 Pawnee Trail, Republic, Kansas
Built on a grassy knoll overlooking the tree-lined Republican River, this fascinating museum encloses the site of an excavated Pawnee two-family dwelling. Of the 30 to 40 houses in a village of some 1,000 people, this was one of the largest, with nearly 2,000 square feet of floor space.
The village was probably abandoned in 1830 when its inhabitants decided to join other Pawnees in what is now Nebraska. Ashes from the residents’ last fire still remain in the hearth, and tools, weapons, and corn lie exactly as found during the excavation; in the fire-hardened earth floor, you can see the 218 holes for the posts that supported a framework of willow poles and a covering of earth and grass.
Exhibits representing various aspects of Native American life include artwork, bone and metal tools, and weapons and pipes. One diorama depicts a buffalo hunt—in summer and winter the Pawnees rode southwest to the High Plains in quest of these animals. Yet another describes Pawnee astronomy.
In the six-acre fenced area behind the museum, you can see 22 other lodge sites and the remains of a sod-and-timber wall that had surrounded the village.
Open Mar. – Nov. Wed. – Sun.; Dec. – Feb. Thurs. – Sat. except holidays.