Skidi Indian Tribe History
Skidi (probably from tski,'i, `wolf,'
or skirircrra, ' wolves standing in water,' referring to a
tribal tradition) . One of the tribes of the Pawnee confederacy
(q. v.), sometimes called Wolf Pawnee, and by the French Pawnee
Loup. That the Skidi were closely associated with the idea of
the wolf is evident from the sign language, in which they are
designated by the sign for that animal. The speech of the Skidi
differed slightly from that of the other 3 Pawnee tribes.
According to tradition the Skidi and Arikara were once united,
but became separated during the northward migration, the Arikara
keeping to the -Missouri valley and the Skidi settling on Loup
r., Nebr., where finally the other 3 Pawnee tribes built their
villages. The wanderings and adventures of the Skidii are
matters of tradition rather than of history. They have so long
regarded the valley of the Loup as their home that they have
located in that vicinity the supernatural underground dwellings
of the mythic animals which preside over the ceremonies of their
secret societies. When first known to the white race the Skidi
were farther N. than the other 3 Pawnee tribes. Tradition
indicates that this tribe was the. first to push northward from
their old home in the S. W. There are stories of the Skidi
having been conquered by the other Pawnee tribes, but these may
refer rather tc local tribal quarrels and not imply subjugation,
for the Skidi have ever kept their distinctive organization and
hay( tenaciously preserved their tribal rite, with their
According to information obtained by Bolton from
Spanish manuscript sources; a part of the Skidi (or "Pani-Maha,"
a: they were called) moved southward anc about 1770 approached
the Texas border. One of the conditions of the general peace
that was established between the Span iards and the northern
Texas tribes it 1.772 was that these tribes should consent to be
moved s., away from the influence of the Pani-Maha (Viceroy to
the Kind of Spain, Nov. 26, 1772, MS. in Archive Gen., Corr. of
Viceroys, Bucareli no, 654). About 1777 a group of the PaniMaha
joined the Taovayas (Tawehash) settlement. When \leziCres was
there in 1778 they had temporarily withdrawn, but he urged them
to return, which then did within a year. From this tithe on-they
seem to have formed an important part of the Taovayas
settlement, which was called by Sibley, in 1805, that of the
"Panic or Towiaches" (Hilt. Sketch, 1806). A Mexican map of 1862
shows a "Pannis" village near the head of Sulphur cr., N. E.
Texas (Alap no. 1020, Sec. de Cartograffa, Dept, de Fomento,
During the two centuries prior to their removal from Nebraska to
Indian Ter. in 1874 the Skidi, in common with the other
Pawneetribes, fought to hold thcir hunting grounds again-t
intruders, and to that end strove for the possession of horses.
The securing of this class of booty was the chief incentive of
war parties, and the possession of ponies beealnethesignof
wealth. The history of the Skidi does not differ materially from
that of the other Pawnee tribes. They joined in the treaties
with the ]United States, served as scouts in its army, and
followed their kindred to Ok lahonla, where they live to-day,
owning lands in severalty as citizens of the United States.
There were no missions established especially for the Skidi;
they were included in those maintained for all the Pawnee.
The organization of the Skill is perhaps more fully carried out
in accordance with the religious beliefs of the people than that
of the other Pawnee tribes. They say they were organized by the
stars, which powers "made them into families and villages,
taught them how to live and how to perform their ceremonies."
Five villages formed the central group. The village at the w.
led in religions ceremonies and had no secular function except
in times of dire distress. The other 4 villages of the group
were situated as at the corners of a square, the sides of which
faced the cardinal directions. Followingan established rotation,
each village led in tribal affairs during one year--a winter and
a summer. The position of these 5 villages and of the other 17
of the tribe were all fixed by the position of the stars which
had given them their shrines and ceremonies, so that the Skidi
villages on the earth were like a reflection of their stars in
the heavens. The star gave its name to the shrine, and the
village took its name from the shrine or from some incident
connected with its bestowal by the star. A secular name
indicative of locality was sometimes added. The shrine was given
by the star to a certain man, and his descendants became its
The immediate care and protection of the shrine devolved on a
woman descendant. The ceremonies and rituals pertaining to the
shrine were in charge of a priesthood, into which anyone of good
character might enter after instruction and the performance of
To the Skidi the universe was dual-male and female-and on the
conjunction of these two forces depended the perpetuation of all
forms of life. A ceremony exemplifying this belief, in which was
the sacrifice of a girl, topical of the evening star, to the
masculine morning star, was peformed among the Skidi as late as
the first quarter of the 19th century (see Petalesharo). The
various ceremonies of the villages began with the first thunder
in the spring and closed when the winter sleep set in. The
social customs and avocations of the Skidi did not differ from
those of the other Pawnee tribes.
Consult G. A. Dorset/ Traditions of the Skidi, 1904; Dun bar,
Pawnee Indians, 1880-S2; Fletcher, (1) The Hake, in 22d Rep. R.
A. E., 1903, (2) in Am. Anthr., iv, 730, 1902; Grinnell, Pawnee
Hero Stories, 1889.
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of American Indians, 1906
Index of Tribes or Nations