Nebraska honors slain Pawnee veterans, descendants accept recognition

GENOA --  U.S. Veterans from the Pawnee Tribe were honored in Genoa Saturday.

Nebraska officially named a part of Highway 22 in memory of “Pawnee Scouts and their service and development of the Union Pacific Railroad,” said Nicholas Moser, Genoa U.S. Indian School Foundation and American Legion Honor Guard. Those Pawnee also defended Nebraskans from the Sioux tribe in the 1860’s, until they were ultimately massacred by settlers at the Mulberry Creek Massacre

Moser submitted the proposal for the official name of the road to the Department of Roads, which the governor then approved in February. On Saturday, he and the Genoa Indian School Foundation held a ceremony for the renaming. The location of the ceremony Saturday was Valley View Cemetery, a previous Pawnee village, in Genoa, before the community had been expelled to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears.

In the back of the cemetery was a mass grave for those Pawnee veterans. Their remains were only recently repatriated from a museum in 1995.

A descendent of the leader of that group attended the dedication Saturday. He said he felt it was a special and spiritual experience. 

“When my father was born, the captain was [only] 73 so many of the stories were passed on,” said Tim Jim, who had driven from Oklahoma just for this ceremony. 

The Head Chief of the Pawnee Nation also showed up. He shared that these veterans -- the Pawnee Scouts -- are incredibly respected in the nation.

“They were our first soldiers in the U.S. army and ever since then a lot of our people enlist, even my own daughter is enlisted right now,” said Head Chief of the Nashura Council of the Pawnee Nation Pat Leading Fox.

In fact, there have been Pawnee veterans in every single U.S. war, with people across the Pawnee Nation taking pride in the veterans' history.

“Everyone in our tribe can trace their lineage to the Pawnee scouts,” LeadingFox said.

One might think that after all this sacrifice followed by injustice, they might ask for more reparations.

But, "What is being done right now is [enough]. This town acknowledging us  [...] I feel really blessed, really good that our scouts have been recognized," Leadingfox said. 

That recognition and memory of Pawnee contributions to U.S. history is vital to the culture, Moser said.

“If it’s not told, it becomes forgotten,” Moser said.

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