(1843 - December 26, 1910)
James Murie was born in Scotland and made his way to Nebraska. He married a Pawnee woman and his union aided his learning the Pawnee language and customs.
With this background, Frank North appointed Murie second lieutenant of the famous Pawnee Battalion. This militia consisted of reservation Pawnee who were ready to battle the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapahoe. These tribes were the Pawnee's ancestral enemies. Murie would later be promoted to Captain.
The Pawnee Battalion was used to protect the frontier in Nebraska with patrols to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and Wyoming. They guarded the building of the transcontinental railroad, aided other military columns and safeguarded small settlements.
In one particular incident, the Cheyenne under Turkey Leg derailed a train in Nebraska. The only survivor was killed by the roving band. Murie and his company engaged these Cheyenne and the result was a running battle where one Cheyenne boy and woman was captured. The boy was a nephew of Turkey Leg and an exchange for a captured white woman was initiated. The peaceful meeting resulted in homecoming for all the captives.
Murie was also involved in the Connor Battle in northern Wyoming and at the Summit Springs Battle in northeastern Colorado. Numerous other skirmishes elevated the effectiveness of this little known militia force which helped settle the western frontier.
The Pawnee Battalion was disbanded and reorganized two or three times. Later James Murie settled in Grand Island, NE where he was listed as a farmer, but described as "insane". Murie wrote that he suffered a Sun Stroke during his enlistment which disabled him from mentally and physically performing any kind of labor.
At the age of 45 in 1888, he applied for admission to the Nebraska Veterans Home. He lived here until his death in 1910.
James R. Murie, the son of Pawnee Battalion Commander, authored a book titled Ceremonies of the Pawnee. This book is an anthropological study of the Pawnee customs and rites. Most of the Pawnee ethnography known today is attributed to this work.
James Murie is buried in the Nebraska Veterans Cemetery in Grand Island, Nebraska.
Information compiled by Steve Grimm