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The Pawnee Scouts’ place in Nebraska history

Throwback Thursday
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 7:07 PM CST
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - North Platte and Lincoln County have a long history of military presence. Back in the 19th century, many groups of Indian scouts helped aid in conflicts between settlers and Native Americans in the United States. The Pawnee Scouts originated from eastern Nebraska and assisted the United States Army.

“It was important, to settlers, for the Pawnee Scouts to be here,” said Jim Griffin, Curator Director at the Lincoln County Historical Museum. “They were known for their bravery, skill and tracking. On the parade ground, they knew how to ride in formation. Many people in the western military wanted to have them in their unit.”

In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Highway Railway act, which paved the way for the transcontinental railroad. By the end of 1866, the rail line had reached North Platte. Under the leadership of Major Frank North, the Pawnee Scouts were called to protect the railroad. The Sioux tribes said their railroad affected their hunting grounds and would attack crews.

In the place of the original McPherson Post, there is a statute from a local Eagle Scout troop that marks where many of the Pawnee Scouts prepared for battles and Indian wars.

“When the Pawnee battled the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers, the expedition started in Fort McPherson,” said Griffin. “They grouped, supplied and the main officer was out of Fort McPherson. Then, they headed to Northeastern Colorado.”

The Pawnee Scouts were disbanded on May 1, 1877.

For more information about the Pawnee Scouts, visit the Lincoln County Historical Museum’s exhibit on Fort McPherson.

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