The Pawnee believe there are many powers in the world. At the creation of the world, lesser powers were made, because Tira’wa-tius, the Mighty Power, could not come near to man, or be seen or felt by him. These lesser powers dwell in the great circle of the sky.
One is North Star; another is Brown Eagle. The Winds were the first of the lesser powers to come near man. Therefore, when man calls for aid, he calls first to the Winds. They stand at the four points, and guard the four paths down which the lesser powers come when they help mankind. The Winds are always near us, by day and by night.
The Sun is one of these powers. It comes from the mighty power above; therefore it has great strength.
Mother Earth is another power. She is very near to man. From her we get food; upon her we lie down. We live and walk on her. We could not exist without Mother Earth, without Sun, and without the Winds.
Water is another lesser power. Water is necessary to mankind.
Fire made by rubbing two sticks together is sacred. It comes direct from the power granted Toharu, vegetation, in answer to man’s prayer as he rubs the sticks. When the flame leaps from the glowing wood, it is the word of the fire. The power has come near.
Blue is the color of the sky, the dwelling place of Tira´ wahut, the circle of powers which watch over man. As a man paints the blue stick he sings.
Red is the color of the sun. Green is the color of Mother Earth.
Eagle is the chief of day; Owl is chief of the night; Woodpecker is chief of the trees; Duck is chief of the water.
The ear of corn represents the supernatural power that dwells in the earth, which brings forth the food that sustains life; there corn is spoken of as h’Atira, “mother breathing forth life.” The power which dwells in the earth, which enables it to give life to all growing things, comes from above. Therefore, in the Hako, the Pawnee ceremony, the ear of corn is painted with blue.
The wildcat was made to live in the forest. He has much skill and ingenuity. The wildcat shows us we must think, must use tact, must be shrewd when we set out to do anything. The wildcat is one of the sacred animals.
Trees grow along the banks of the streams; we can see them at a distance, like a long line, and we can see the river glistening in the sunlight in its length. We sing to the river, and when we come nearer and see the water and hear it rippling along, then we sing to the water, the water that ripples as it runs.
Hills were made by Tira’wa. We ascend hills when we go away alone to pray. From the top of a hill we can look over the country to see if there are enemies in sight, or if any danger is near us. We can see if we are to meet friends. The hills help man, so we sing to them.