Once the Pawnees were a great people. They were very numerous. They were undisputed masters of a vast territory. They had everything that heart could wish. Their corn and their buffalo gave them food, clothing and shelter; they had weapons for war and for the chase. They roamed over the country without let or hindrance. In peace they were light-hearted and contented; in war cunning, fierce and successful. Their name was a terror to their enemies. This was in the past. Now they are few in number, poor, a prey to disease, a vanishing race. My acquaintance with the tribe began in 1870. From that time to the present I have had frequent intercourse with them; have lived in their villages; and been with them on their buffalo hunts. During the weeks and months spent in camp and village, I have listened to many stories of Pawnee heroes and to folk-tales of the miraculous doings of the olden time. In my intercourse with the tribe, extending over a period of nearly twenty years, I have been deeply impressed by the high qualities of the Pawnee character; and the more familiar I have become with this people, the more strongly have I felt that a permanent record should be made of the tales which reflect that character. Unless thus collected now, much of this lore must inevitably be forgotten.
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