The Native American Pawnee Nation has a history that spans more than 700 years, but pop culture’s memory of the tribe is far more short-term: most millennials likely associate the name Pawnee with the beloved show Parks and Recreation (RIP), even though the fictional Indiana town (formerly the home of the show’s also-fictional Wamapoke tribe) was not named for the Pawnee Nation, according to the city’s official history:
“Pawnee” or “Wamapoke?”
Visitors often ask about our name. There is a North American Native American tribe from the plains of Nebraska called Pawnee, a peaceful and noble tribe with roughly 2500 surviving members. However, we are not named after them! Legend has it, Reverend Howell chose “Pawnee” as the name for our city accidentally – a functional illiterate, he tried to write “Paradise” on the city charter and his scrawls were misinterpreted.
Even so, it’s hard to hear Pawnee and not think Parks and Rec, which is exactly what happened to Angeleno, @midnight digital producer, and Gilmore Guys co-host Demi Adejuyigbe as he was watching Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant. In the brutal film, frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is plagued by flashbacks of his murdered wife, who was a member of the Pawnee tribe. Adejuyigbe tweeted, “THE REVENANT makes so many mentions of Pawnee that I’m starting to imagine their storyboards were the city’s murals from Parks and Rec,” a reference to the overtly racist paintings that lined the walls of Pawnee City Hall in the sitcom.
THE REVENANT makes so many mentions of the Pawnee that I’m starting to imagine their storyboards were the city murals from Parks and Rec
— demi adejuyigbe (@electrolemon) January 3, 2016
Thankfully for all of us, Adejuyigbe took the idea one step further and created a Parks and Rec-style title sequence for The Revenant, complete with Gaby Moreno and Vincent Jones’ theme music. The result is so weird but so wonderful. Watch below.