Spirits Lifted, Pawnee Exodus 1875

Painting by Dan HorseChief


Size: 24"x 32"

Category: Painting

Tribal Affiliation: Cherokee

Artwork Description:

"Spirits Lifted, Pawnee Exodus 1875" depicts an incident that occurred during the Pawnee "Trail of Tears" that brought them to present day Oklahoma. The depressed column was dispirited by constant misfortune that resulted in being forced to leave their homeland of Nebraska. They were the survivors of the previous population that used to number 14,000 people decades before. Disease and constant warfare had dramatically reduced their numbers to about 700 survivors. Even though the Pawnee bands had cooperated fully with the U.S. government, they were still prey to settlers and their traditional tribal enemies who were settled next to them. The survivors of this "Scary Time", as it was known, managed to reach a peaceful tract of land supplied by their friends, the Wichitas, in the then Indian Territory. It was truly an escape and the remnants of the once numerous Pawnee Nation were forced by necessity to evacuate with all of their belongings. On their way to resettle in Indian Territory to the south, the miles long sad column was suddenly surprised by a huge flock of turkey who flew over the whole length of the Pawnee column. The people were said to come alive again with joy and excitement that reminded them of former times. Dust and objects flew in all directions as well in the attempts to bring down the birds for food and sport. Smiles and laughter returned as spirits were truly lifted by this joyful encounter on the Plains.

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