Caddoan Groups Pawnee Arikara Caddo and Wichita

Among the Plains tribes, the Pawnees were a more sedentary group living in villages of earthen lodges and practicing some agriculture, although depending heavily on buffalo hunting. Their way of life certainly fits the general Plains pattern, but it has more similarities to Mesoamerica than that of other Plains groups. Most notably, they had a human sacrifice to the Morning Star by shooting arrows at a captive, usually a woman, fastened on a frame. The "Morning Star" in question seems usually to have been Mars, described as of red color, a star that moved across the sky and eventually joined the Evening Star (Venus) in the west, and made her his wife. The sacrifice is known to have been scheduled for 1827 April 11 and 1838 April 22 and in the spring of 1817. Possibly related ceremonies were held in 1902, 1906, and 1915. The two certain dates show no obvious astronomical relationships either to each other or to obviously important points of any planetary cycle (see an extensive discussion by Chamberlain 1982, pp. 73-80).

Wissler and Spinden (1916) wrote a classic paper suggesting that the Pawnee sacrifice was historically related to the comparable Aztec practice and probably derived from the Aztecs, perhaps between 1506 and 1519. We now know substantially more about the arrow (or spear) sacrifice in Mesoamerica. It is attested by graffiti from Tikal in the Mayan classic period, on at least two Mayan pots, and in various codices, notably, a scene in which the Mixtec king, Eight Deer, sacrifices his two maternal nephews, one by the

Figure 13.9. A diagram of the Pawnee scaffold and associated colors, directions, trees, animals, weather conditions, and weapons. Drawing by Sharon Hanna.

"gladiatorial conflict"5 on the 19th of December 998,6 and the other by the spear sacrifice eight days later. Two Cuicatec codices from southern Puebla show women sacrificed on a frame, which is precisely like the Pawnee descriptions with four cross-bars below and one above. Derivation from Mesoamerica seems increasingly likely with new information, but a direct Aztec derivation now seems much less likely. In most Mesoamerican depictions, the victim was spread-eagled on the scaffold, and it seems very likely that this was also the Pawnee practice, as it would fit Pawnee conceptions. Figure 13.9 shows a diagram of the Pawnee scaffold and associated colors, directions, trees, animals, weather conditions, and weapons.7

5 This term is applied in Mesoamerica to a type of human sacrifice in which a captive was fastened to a rock by a rope and given wooden weapons set with paper instead of obsidian with which to defend himself against several properly armed warriors.

6 According to Kelley chronology;in that of others: Dec. 6,1050, in the Caso chronology and Nov. 23,1102, in the Rabin chronology (cf. Kelley 1983).

7 It should be noted that Murie (1981, p. 110) associates the "Big Black

Meteoritic Star" with the willow and the "Yellow Star" with the elm, although they are reversed on his diagram on the same page. Weltfish (1965, p. 112) gives a comparable diagram, but has each tree shifted one position clockwise from Murie's position, if the willow is associated with the color black. According to Weltfish, the thongs used to tie on the scaffold were bear, mountain lion, wildcat, and wolf for the bottom poles and otter for the top pole. Murie (1981, p. 123) specifies that the animal skins were associated with the scaffold in the order: wolf, mountain lion, bear, and wildcat. The order of the poles that is given in the same way by Murie and Weltfish seems to be inconsistent with this ordering of associated animals. In any case, an association with astronomical ideas seems clear.

Von Del Chamberlain (1982, p. 68) points out additional similarities in the Aztec and Pawnee belief systems, but he thinks that these similarities are outweighed by the great difference between the Aztec and Pawnee cultures. Certainly, there is a great difference between Aztec and Pawnee culture, but this has little relevance to the origin of the ceremony; after all, borrowings from very different cultures are common in many parts of the world. Kelley's views on this matter have been strongly affected by a detailed comparison of the Mesoamerican and Pawnee sacrifices in a manu-script8 by Joe Cason (~1954), which identified a large series of conceptual similarities in the two ceremonies that had not been noted previously. Chamberlain has argued that Mesoamerican cultures put more emphasis on the cardinal directions than on the cross-quarter points emphasized by the Pawnees, but both groups emphasized both, so this is a hard-to-judge question of degree. Moreover, the emphasis varied in different parts of Mesoamerica, and with respect to the year-beginning points and associated colors, highland Mexican groups may have emphasized the cross-quarter points. Symbolic colors and implicit directions are directly associated with the spear sacrifice in the Nuttall codex through a four-colored bar placed below the sacrifice. The colors differ widely in different parts of Mesoamerica, and so specific correlation with the Pawnee colors is not particularly significant. Both groups associated trees with directions, but again, the details are different (among the Mayans, the direction trees were simply named by their colors). Both Pawnees and Mesoamericans held important "New Fire" ceremonies, when all fires throughout the community were extinguished and new fires were started with torches lit from a newly built central fire (the Pawnees kept the firedrill for making the new fire in the sacred bundle of the Evening Star). Timing and social function were different between the Aztecs and Pawnees, but again, other Mesoamerican groups also seem to have held New Fire ceremonies under conditions different from those of the Aztecs.

Pawnee houses were regarded as both models of the universe and as observatories. At the center was a fireplace and the fire represented the Sun. In special ceremonies, the Pawnees built a clay model of a turtle and put the fire on the turtle's back. The Aztec Xiuhtecuhtli was the lord of fire, ruler of the year, the first of the Nine Lords of Night, equally the first of the Thirteen Lords of the Day, and was said to dwell at the center. His home seems to have been near Orion's belt, which, with the sword, seems to have been identified with the Aztec firedrill constellation. We are not told of the cosmic identity of the Pawnee turtle, but as the supporter of the fire/Sun, it must have had such an identity. Mayan evidence equates the turtle with Orion's belt. The Pawnees maintained that meteorites were a type of "fire turtle" (see especially Chamberlain 1982, pp. 144-145). The similarities persist.

It is mentioned that the Kikahahki Pawnee equated the Sun with a deer (Chamberlain 1982, p. 248), and accumulating evidence makes it clear that in Mesoamerica a deer

Unfortunately never published and present disposition unknown.

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