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Spanish and French explorers found the Pawnee Indians in what are now Kansas and Nebraska in the 16th Century. Zebulon Pike (1806) and Jebediah Smith (1825) were early explorers thought to have spent time with the Pawnee in North Central Kansas.
About 1820 the Kitkehahki (Republican) band of the Pawnees settled near the the Republican River which was named after them. It is said the name republican was given to this band because the first white men in contact with them thought, mistakenly, that their form of government was a republic. The Pawnees remained until about 1830 when they seem to have been forced by their traditional enemies, the Kaws (Kansa) and the Osages, to rejoin the other Pawnees in the Platte River valley.
Drought and famine served as impetus for many of Sweden's citizens to emigrate to the New World in the 1870s.
In 1868, The Scandinavian Agriculture Society of Chicago lined up twelve sections of land in southwestern Republic County
. A number of Scandinavian settlers, traveling by rail to Junction City and then walking the rest of the way, selected a site which by 1876 would be called Scandia.