Mile 697– Historic Pawnee Village
After leaving the site of modern day Fort Riley, Robert Campbell’s party headed north on the Republican river. They were in for a harsh winter, as Robert recalls in his narrative the party was low on provisions and lost a third of their mules. They even had to send a group back to Saint Louis to resupply. While wintering on the Republican river, they encountered a Republican Pawnee mud village. The tribe members were away on a buffalo hunt, and desperate for some sustenance, Robert Campbell’s party dug up a cache of Pawnee corn. Luckily, the party had money to repay the Pawnee upon their return. Robert and Jedediah Smith even stayed with Republican Pawnee chief Ish-Ka-ta-pa in his lodge. Robert’s party survived off of the corn taken from the caches and occasionally buffalo and wild turkey. Robert stated that they suffered from a lack of supplies that entire winter until April when General Ashley joined the party with supplies.
This Pawnee village could have very well been the same site where the Pawnee Indian Museum State Historic Site sits today, near modern day Republic, Kansas. This site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places:
This was the site of a Republican (Kitkehahki) Pawnee village in the 1820’s and 1830’s. The earthlodges were round, dome-shaped structures with a framework of heavy timbers covered over with sod. They closely resembled huge mounds of earth. …In this village two of the twenty-two known sites were considerably larger. Presumably they were the dwellings of more important families. A museum and interpretive center was built in 1967 over one of the larger lodge sites. On the floor of the lodge visitors can see remains of burned timbers from the collapsed walls and the post holes in which roof and wall supports once stood. Ashes still remain in the hearth. Left where they were found on the floor are remains of stone, bone, and metal tools and implements, which were left behind when the lodge was abandoned. Surface features of the site which are visible are the locations of lodge floors, storage pits, and the remains of the fortification wall around the village…
…It is believed to have been the village visited by Jedediah Smith, famed mountain man and explorer, in January, 1826, when he was on his way west with a party of trappers.