Tools of the Pawnee Indians

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The Pawnee Indians were among the first Native American tribes recorded by the European settlers. The Pawnee generally resided in and roamed across the Nebraska area, and they were one of the largest and most powerful tribes in the west. Many different kinds of tools were created and used by the Pawnee.

1 Buffalo Tools

The Pawnee cherished and revered the Buffalo as a divine gift. The tribe conducted massive hunting expeditions to harvest Buffalo, and they would in turn eat every edible portion of the carcass and use all of the remaining body parts as tools. The bones, teeth, horns and fur of the Buffalo were used to build objects, to assist routine activities and to create additional tools capable of diverse functions.

2 Home Building Tools

Pawnees dwelled in "earth lodges," which served as permanent homes for entire families or for large clans with populations of up to 1,000 people. The earth lodges were made primarily from logs covered with earth and grass along with brush that functioned as walls. Teepees were also convenient living spaces for Pawnee on the hunt, for the light weight of the teepees made them easy to carry around and the strong material could withstand powerful winds. To make Teepees, the Pawnee would use buffalo rawhides to cover sticks that were the appropriate sizes. The amount of rawhides needed to build and cover the teepees ranged from 7 to 37, depending on the size of the teepee and of the rawhides.

3 Gardening Tools

While the Pawnee men typically focused on hunting and the grandparents generally raised and cared for the children, Pawnee women were responsible for maintaining domestic affairs such as gardening and farming. To cultivate the large gardens that surrounded the villages--or to plant and harvest corn, pumpkin, beans and squash--women used hoes constructed from the shoulder blades of buffalo, wooden rakes and diggers made from sticks hardened by fire.

4 Eating Tools

The Pawnee men hunted buffalo, raccoons, squirrels, elk, deer, otter, beavers and badgers. When they returned with the meals, women were typically in charge of preparing the meals and providing utensils for the tribe to eat the food. Utensils and tools used to eat the food were usually made from the horns and bones of buffalo, and specific utensils enjoyed by the Pawnee to help them effectively eat food and drink beverages included spoons and drinking cups.

5 Other Tools

Other tools used by the Pawnee Indians include rope that was braided from the fur of buffalo and thread made from the tendons of buffalo legs. The buffalo rawhide was used to make drums, clothes, parfleches and hunting shields. Additionally, to hunt and to fight battles against other tribes, the preferred weapon of the Pawnee was generally the bow and arrow.