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Only a white man would make a fire for all to see.
~ The Toughest Pawnee

The Pawnee are the central antagonistic faction of the 1990 legendary Kevin Costner film Dances with Wolves, and posthumous antagonists in its sequel The Holy Road. They are a vicious tribe of Pawnee Indians who plan to exterminate the Sioux at any cost.

The chief was portrayed by Wes Studi, who also played Magua, while the other warriors were portrayed by Buffalo Child, Clayton Big Eagle, and Richard Leader Charge.


Dances with Wolves

During Christine Gunther's childhood, a tribe of Pawnee Indians arrive and she and her best friend, Willie notice them as her mother orders them to stay. As their fathers order the warriors to leave, they kill both of them and Christine is forced to flee as the Pawnee massacre the rest of her family and presumably Willie. She is eventually found and adopted by a Sioux Indian named Kicking Bird and is taken to his tribe led by Ten Bears, where she is given the name "Stands With A Fist".

While Timmons is camping out in the plains, a group of Pawnee warriors observe the smoke in the distance and believe it's white settlers. The subordinates are concerned that they might have guns, but the leader makes up his mind to go down there and kill whoever is down there. The other warriors reluctantly follow their chief and he shoots arrows at Timmons. Timmons tries to flee, but the chief continues to shoot at him. The other Indians arrive and Timmons begs them not to hurt his mules. The lead warrior scalps Timmons alive (off-screen) and he lets out a scream of pain. The Indians let out a shout of victory and they leave with Timmons' mules as the leader carries the scalp on his tomahawk.

After John Dunbar finds peace with the Sioux, a war party is assembled to fight against the Pawnee. Dunbar asks to fight, but Kicking Bird suggests that he should stay behind and watch over his family, to which he agrees. Eventually, Dunbar receives the news that the Pawnee are headed for the village, so he heads to Fort Sedgewick to retrieve his store of guns for the Sioux warriors. The Pawnee cross the valley and kill the dogs as they arrive at the camp. As they launch the attack, Dunbar and the Sioux warriors emerge from their tepees and attack with their guns. Dunbar pins one Pawnee warrior down, but the warrior headbutts him and overpowers him. The warrior tries to kill him, but Dunbar pulls out his gun and shoots him. One of the Pawnee warriors sneaks into Pretty Shield's tepee and prepares to kill them, but Stone Calf stops him with an arrow, allowing Pretty Shield to finish him off. Another Pawnee warrior tears into another tepee, but Stands With A Fist shoots him.

While Dunbar and the Sioux easily manage to defeat the Pawnee and chase them off, the Pawnee leader brutally kills Stone Calf from behind. As he realizes the other warriors are being driven away, Smiles A Lot and the other Sioux children shoot an arrow into his leg, causing him to scream in pain. He tries to chase them away, but Sioux reinforcements arrive and chase him into the river. He tries to escape, but finds himself completely surrounded by Dunbar and the Sioux. Realizing he's been defeated, he lets out a yell as he is shot by the Sioux warriors.

After the Sioux rescue Dunbar from the Union soldiers, he and Stands With A Fist leave their tribe and the Sioux are forced to flee their winter camps before the U.S. Army could capture them. The U.S. Army search the mountains and arrive at the Sioux camp with their Pawnee scouts, but find nothing. The Pawnee scouts search for traces of the Sioux tribe as they hear a wolf howl in the distance.

The Holy Road

The Pawnee were mentioned by Kicking Bird as he explains that enemy tribes like Pawnee and Utes do not bother them for a long time after they are defeated, while white men would still relentlessly pursue their tribe as they are being persecuted by a band of white rangers. When Smiles A Lot gets attacked by white soldiers firing cannonballs at him, he hallucinates at the sight of Pawnee horsemen and Ute warriors attacking each other in the sky. It was later mentioned that the Pawnee were responsible for killing Kicking Bird's mother as they massacred the villagers and stuck their heads in cooking pots.


Only a white man would make a fire for all to see. (Pawnee 1: Maybe there's more than one.) (Pawnee 2: There may be three or four.) I know three or four who will not be making the trip back home. (Pawnee 1: We have nothing to show for this trail. But we have no rifles. White men always have rifles.) (Pawnee 3: It's difficult to tell how many there are down there.) (Pawnee 1: Come on, let's just go home.) Then go! I for one will rather die, than quarreling about a single column of smoke in my own country!
~ The Toughest Pawnee to his subordinates.


  • Kicking Bird's Mother
  • Mr. Gunther
  • Willie's Father
  • Mrs. Gunther
  • Willie's Mother
  • Several kids
  • Willie (presumably)
  • Timmons
  • Dogs
  • Stone Calf (movie only)





  • The Pawnee are the Greater-Scope Villains of the franchise, as they were the ones responsible for a lot of major events that drove the plot of the film.
  • In real-life, Pawnee were actually peaceful and friendly to white settlers. In fact, they always sided with the U.S. Army during conflict. They did raid settlers' foods, but only when the game they were relying on became scarce as settlers passed through their territory. When Pawnee and other Native American tribes were being forced out of their lands by the Lakota Sioux with guns, they were forced them to become allies of the United States Government.
  • It is unlikely that the Pawnee warriors didn't come to Christine's home for any conflict, but rather for food and water. The Pawnee only killed Christine and Willie's fathers after they disrespected them and tried to shoo them away.
  • The real-life John Dunbar was a Christian missionary who associated with the Pawnee tribe before the Civil War.
  • The Pawnee leader shot Timmons with 5 arrows, but when Timmons begs him not to hurt his mules, there is one more arrow on his chest.
  • In the book, the tribe they fought were Comanches instead of Sioux. The reason for this change was because of the setting the film took place.
    • In addition, Stone Calf survived the battle against the Pawnee.
  • While the Pawnee prove to be more evil than Sergeant Bauer and the other Union soldiers, Bauer is the real main antagonist, because he and the other soldiers prove to be a far greater threat than the Pawnee.
  • Although Sergeant Bauer and the Union soldiers are the real main antagonists, the Pawnee served as the Heavy as it was their murder of Timmons along with the suicide of Major Fambrough that prevented the U.S. Army from learning of Dunbar's transport to Fort Sedgewick.
  • The Pawnee and Major Fambrough may have been the reason for Captain Cargill's desertion at Fort Sedgewick, as while Fambrough failed to resupply Cargill, the Pawnee prevented others from supplying him and his men by killing them. This is shown in the scene where Dunbar and Timmons come across a wagon with the skeletal remains of a person that was killed by Indians, presumably the Pawnee.
  • The Pawnee may have also killed Captain Cargill after he abandoned Fort Sedgewick. This is evidenced in the scene where the Pawnee attack the Sioux village, as one of the Pawnee warriors is wearing Cargill's overcoat.
  • In real-life, one of the Pawnee actors, Richard Leader Charge, is related to the late Doris Leader Charge, the actress who played Pretty Shield.


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