Marker Monday: Shell Creek Pawnee Settlements

Highway Archeology Program excavating cache pits of a Shell Creek site next to Highway 15


Marker Text

By the early 1600s, the ancestors of the Pawnee Nation began consolidating into a few large communities. Each was home to hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Some of these were built along nearby Shell Creek. These Shell Creek cities may have been built by ancestors of the Čawî, Kitkehahki, and Pîtahawirâta bands. Oral tradition mentions an ancestral group, the Kawarakîs. The other major division of the Pawnee, the Ckîri, built their early communities near Genoa.

The Shell Creek villages were occupied before the Pawnees acquired horses and guns. A few items of European manufacture found at these sites show direct or indirect contact with early French traders. During this time, the Pawnees made a beautiful assortment of tools and ornaments fashioned from bone, stone, shell, antler, and clay. The Pawnees built and lived in sturdy earth lodges, timber-framed lodges covered with earth. These lodges were occupied for decades. Community members grew large amounts of corn and other crops. They went on long-distance hunting trips into Kansas, using dogs to carry home processed buffalo meat and stone for tool manufacture.



NE 15 north of Schuyler; 1.9 miles north of HWY 30. Located HERE.


Additional Images

Excavated Earth Lodge Plan Map

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

The Story of Richi Ugai:  Making the American Dream Possible for Future Generations of Japanese-Americans

The Story of Richi Ugai: Making the American Dream Possible for Future Generations of Japanese-Americans

Decoration Day

Decoration Day

Nebraska’s Japanese American History

Nebraska’s Japanese American History

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.