Pawnee Art, Language & Ceremonies

In the WolfLady books, Sue Denver has created a fictional plains indian tribe called the Lupiti. They were inspired by the Pawnee tribe, which Sue got to know a little when she was engaged to Pawnee artist Charles Chapman.

If you’d like to know more about Pawnee culture and traditions, there are four great sources below. If you want to know more about the fictional Lupiti (from lupus — meaning wolf), you’ll need to read the WolfLady stories!

#1 Pawnee Nation

Your first stop should be the the official resources at Pawnee Nation.

If you’re ever in Oklahoma, Pawnee OK is about 50 miles west of Tulsa. You can stop in and meet some of the wonderful people there — as well as buy a souvenir or two. Then president of the Pawnee Business Council, Robert Chapman, was very tolerant of me in 1989 when I showed up in town seeking information about Pawnee traditions — so I could write about a Pawnee werewolf(!) (More about werewolf fiction & the invented Lupiti tribe.) They introduced me to Pawnee artist Charles W. Chapman (see below) who had done extensive research on Pawnee ceremonies and traditions.

#2 Pawnee Language

#3 Pawnee Artist Charles W. Chapman (1944-2017)

Charles W. Chapman dedicated his life to creating art that was accurate to the history of the Pawnee people. Here is a gallery of some of his work.

#4 Books on Pawnee Ceremonies


CEREMONIES OF THE PAWNEE – Part 2: The South Bands

These two books are the most relevant for factual details about the traditions and ceremonies of the Pawnee. They were written by James R. Murie, a half-Pawnee man who spoke Pawnee. He completed them in 1929. They were later edited by Douglas R. Parks and published by the Smithsonian Institution Press in 1981. Note: Amazon offers one book with this title by this author for almost $1,000. Amazon says it was published in 1746(!) This really isn’t possible, as James Murie didn’t get the grant to start writing this until 1910 and he died in 1920. Unless he lived almost 200 years, he wasn’t around in 1746!

THE LOST UNIVERSE: Pawnee Life and Culture

This book was written by Gene Weltfish and published by the University of Nebraska Press in 1965. In the book, Weltfish acknowledges the help of a Pawnee man named Henry Chapman who served as his interpreter and assistant. Henry Chapman was the father of Pawnee artist Charles W. Chapman — whose painting of “Good Buffalo, Pawnee Doctor” graces the cover. It was republished in 1990 by Bison Books, with the same cover.


This book by George Bird Grinnell was first published in 1899(!) The edition I have was published in 1961 by the University of Nebraska Press. It has a cover that features a painting by Pawnee artist Charles W. Chapman titled “In Grandfather’s Day…” There is a newer edition (see below) published in 2015 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.