Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer

Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer is a museum in Nebraska…not really near me because let’s face it, Nebraska is HUGE.

But it’s near enough that I’ve gotten there a couple of times.

It’s absolutely fascinating. A laid-out circle of buildings that have been brought it, that date to the 1800s.

I may write five blogs about it because there is SO MUCH. I could spend days there and just look and read and look and read.

But today I’m writing about the recreated Earthen Lodge built there.

In the early 1800s the Pawnee lived mainly in only a few towns. Six or seven.

In each town were 40 to 200 of these earthen lodges.

Each lodge held around 20 Pawnee and each village could contain from 800 to 3500 tribal members.

These were big towns.

The smallest one is larger than my hometown.


This first picture is a diagram of the lodge. It’s laid out to respect the power the Native people gave to the earth. It was called The Circle of Life. Both symbolic and literally the source of their family, their safety, their food, their shelter. Truly a circle of life for them.

For me, museums are most fun when there are lots of words. This picture above is for the Pawnee History that is celebrated with this earthen lodge. I hope you can read it. I spend more time READING in museums than looking at the objects contained there.

This is the side view of the lodge from outside. It’s exactly as you’d think it would be. A hole dug into a hill. Remember this is Nebraska. It gets cold! The insulation from dirt is excellent, though it still seems like it’s be a little cold to me. 

Here it is from the front, this is the entrance. It’s full size and we were able to go inside.

This is the inside edge of the lodge. You can see there is a layer of grassy seating off the ground. The Pawnee would sit here, around the fire, and could sleep here at night. A single lodge could house dozens of tribal members.

Here you can see the tree trunks that support the ceiling, even though it’s inside an earthen mount it is hollowed out and they need to keep the ceiling up. Note the opening in the ceiling. A fire was built in the center of the lodge and it would warm everyone, the smoke would rise up through the hole, they could cook over it and heat water to wash.

Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer. A fascinating slice of history in Minden Nebraska in the heart of the Nebraska prairie.

Mary Connealy


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Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

33 thoughts on “Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer”

  1. What a fascinating blog, with great details. I do hope you post more about this museum. I spent Sunday in Bill Cody Museum in Cody, WY. It was amazing, if you’ve not been there, I highly recommend it.
    Thanks for sharing, I live in Kansas, so maybe one day I can venture north to your state and check this museum out. I love indian history.

  2. Wow, cool! If you ever find yourself anywhere near Cody Wyoming, they have a Mountain Man Museum — with cabins they brought out of the mountains around there. It’s incredible.

  3. Oh wow, I don’t remember ever learning all this about the Pawnee or earthen lodges before! Thank you so much for sharing! I could read the Pawnee History pic! I love to read all I can in museums also. I have to admit that I giggled when you made the comment that Nebraska is huge. lol… Texan here! Thank you so much for sharing this information on the Pawnee. I never knew any Indian tribes lived in such large villages or so many lived together in one “home”. That brings about so many questions that I won’t even start!

  4. I’ve been to Pioneer Village!!!!! And just like you said, Mary, it’s amazing. Probably even more so than I’ve been there. If anyone wants to soak up authentic American history, Pioneer Village is the place. You can’t even absorb it all, there’s so much!

    Now you’re making me want to go back, Mary!

  5. What an interesting piece of history. My Dad was born in Nebraska, but I have never been there.

  6. Mary, I love this kind of thing. I live in New England, and we have several Living History sites…Old Sturbridge Village, Plimoth Plantation, and Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, NH. It’s so important to preserve history. I still get chills when I stand on Lexington Green or the Concord battlefield. We remember, and some of us write about it.

    • I’ve been to one in Indianapolis called Connor Prairie…such a fascinating slice of history there. From 1820, We don’t think of it much but it’s not a time in history we ever study, when Indianapolis was the far west frontier in America.

  7. Stuhr Museum is a favorite place to visit. My son lives not far down the road from it and plays drums in a band that plays a concert on the Fourth of July reenactment each year. There is so much there that we have never seen it all.

  8. Awesome looking place. You don’t hear that much about the Pawnees, as other Native American tribes seem to get the spotlight, like the Comanche and the Sioux. And you always think of them as living in teepees when the Native Americans had a variety of habitats, especially for the winter. Winter on the High Plains, as you said, is cold. So wonderful when you can visit these places and go inside. Loved your post!

  9. I had know idea the Pawnee lived in earthen lodges. Maybe the pioneers who built dugout homes learned from them. Hollywood always showed us Plains Indians, no matter the tribe, living in teepees. Please give us more of this museum.

  10. Wow, this is so very interesting, Thank you so much for sharing this, I enjoyed reading it and looking at the pics.

  11. Thank you for sharing this. When we travel, we always are looking for places like this to visit. It is now on our list for next time we head out that way. Like you, I read everything that is put up. The family always finishes long before I do. Now that the children are grown and have families of their own, there is much less pressure for me to hurry up since it is just my husband and I. He also enjoys this sort of thing.
    Stay safe and healthy.

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