As a child in Kansas, Gordon William Lillie befriended the Pawnee Indians and idolized the West legends such as Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody. As a young man he worked with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show as the Pawnee interpreter. This work with the show would give him his nickname Pawnee Bill. He started his own Wild West Show in 1888, and eventually bought out the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, but returned a portion of it to Buffalo Bill when he was down on his luck. Pawnee Bill helped save the buffalo from extinction by keeping a herd on his ranch to preserve the breed.