In the 1800s, settlements of up to fifty Pawnee earth lodges dotted the plains of what is now Nebraska. Today, this 38-foot-diameter structure is one of the few full-size replicas of these abodes in existence—offering an immersive snapshot of a cultural time and place. The dwelling’s circular, domed shape symbolizes the Pawnee view of the universe, in which the stars and planets represented celestial gods. Members of the Pawnee nation advised on the design of this lodge and its furnishings, including the sacred area that would have been used only by a priest.
At the Pawnee Earth Lodge, you can:
- Sit on buffalo-robed beds, examine a buckskin dress, and touch other replicas of pottery, weaponry, and beadwork made from the same materials used by Native Americans in the 1800s.
- “Cook” a meal at the fire pit using a spoon carved from buffalo bone and play with replicas of Pawnee children’s toys.
- Talk with docents sharing their knowledge about the life and legends of the Pawnee.
- Stargaze at the constellations sparkling overhead, which the Pawnee viewed as celestial beings, offering guidance for life on Earth.