Piegan Blackfeet -Blackfoot Confederation


Piegan Blackfeet -Blackfoot Confederation

This group is about history and current affairs of the Piegan Blackfeet, Blackfoot Confederacy and First Nations.

Members: 9
Latest Activity: Jul 10

"Lords of the Great Plains"

The Blackfoot Confederacy consists of four different tribes, the Pikuni/Peigan, North Peigan Pikuni, Blood/Kainai, and Blackfoot/Siksika. Members of the Blackfoot Confederation presently live in Montana, the United States and Alberta, Canada. When the Canadian government/British Crown sought to enter into a treaty with the Niitsitapi (the Real People), they made initial contact with the Siksika who lived on the north and northeastern frontiers of Niitsitapiskaku. They made the wrong assumption that all Niitsitapi were Blackfoot. The Niitsitapi are Ahpikuni (Peigan), Southern Ahpikuni (Montana Blackfeet), Ahkainah (Bloods) and Siksika (Blackfoot).

Their territory once covered an areas from Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta to the Yellowstone River, and from the Rocky Mountains to the present day North Dakota border.
The language of the Niitsitapi is Niitsipussin (the Real Language). Some differences in phraseology occurs among the Niitsitapi but essentially, the language is the same.
Original 16 mm film footage from a Fulton Petroleum business.

Discussion Forum

The Blackfeet CULTURE

Started by bridget orman. Last reply by PITA SIKSIKA WARRIOR Dec 11, 2017. 1 Reply

THE CULTURE The Blackfeet people have occupied the Rocky Mountain region for more than…Continue


Started by bridget orman Nov 28, 2017. 0 Replies

BADGER-TWO MEDICINE line The Badger-Two Medicine region is an almost entirely unroaded expanse of mountains, ridges, river valleys and wetlands along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front that is sacred to…Continue


Started by bridget orman Nov 28, 2017. 0 Replies

JUSTICE FOR THE BLACKFEET PEOPLE line Blackfeet Nation and U.S. Dept. of the Interior announce retirement of all illegal oil/gas leases in sacred Badger-Two Medicine region. Justice prevails for…Continue

10 Things You Should Know about the Blackfeet Nation

Started by LadyHawkღ Nov 19, 2015. 0 Replies

Jack McNeel 11/19/15 The Blackfeet Reservation in northwestern Montana is bordered by…Continue

Tags: Glacier National Park, native american, Blackfoot, Blackfeet

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Comment by PITA SIKSIKA WARRIOR on July 10, 2021 at 4:54am


Comment by ERIC SHARP on May 20, 2011 at 12:41pm
This is a good one Thank you for posting this Connie
Comment by LadyHawkღ on March 10, 2011 at 4:02pm

People are sometimes confused about the names, Blackfoot and Blackfeet. Many think that Blackfeet is just the plural of Blackfoot. This is not true.
They are two different tribes of Native Americans. The Blackfeet are a small Sioux tribe from Dakota territory.
The Blackfoot, are descendants of a large and powerful Algonquian tribe, located in Montana and Canada.
The Blackfoot migrated west from the great forestlands of the northeast. Researchers know this because the Blackfoot language is Algonquian, like that of their northeastern ancestors.

The Blackfoot were a nomadic people whose lives centered around hunting buffalo.They followed the great herds across the vast plains grasslands. The buffalo provided all the Blackfoot's needs for food, shelter, clothing, and tools.

The Blackfoot were at the height of their power in the 1830's, with a population of more than 18,000. After that the Blackfoot population was ravaged by the White people's disease, smallpox. For the next 40 yrs. smallpox epidemics were destined to break out every decade. The first epidemic struck in 1836 killing almost half of the tribe. Subsequent epidemics , so drastically reduced the population that the tribe was no longer able to ward off the White settlers who were increasingly encroaching on their lands.

Not only did the settlers build towns and houses, but also started cattle ranches. The cattle competed with the buffalo for the same grasslands. As the number of buffalo diminished from White hunters, the cattle overtook the plains.

The Blackfoot began to retaliate by attacking isolated White ranches and settlements.
The Whites called for military intervention, and in 1869 the U.S. Cavalry arrived and attacked a peaceful, friendly Blackfoot camp.

In the ensuing battle, known as the "Baker Massacre", more than 300 Blackfoot men, women, and children were killed. This brought the remaining number of Blackfoot to less than 3,000.

Between the fighting and disease, the Blackfoot's strength and spirit were broken. Some of the survivors moved across the border into Canada, others agreed to live on a small parcel of reservation land the U.S. government set aside for them in Montana. There many of them remain today.
Comment by LadyHawkღ on July 26, 2010 at 11:14am
Thank you Eric for your contribution to the group.
Comment by ERIC SHARP on July 26, 2010 at 10:05am
horses Pictures, Images and Photos

The Plains Indians of North America lived for thousands of years without horses. The nomadic Blackfoot Indians in particular were known for their great skills in hunting the enormous buffalo long before the first pyramids of Egypt were built. It was after the introduction in 1730 of the animal named “elk-horse” for its great size that the Blackfoot tribes became renowned for their expert horsemanship and continued their dominance of neighboring Native American groups as they pushed westward toward the Rocky Mountains. They had a reputation as fierce warriors and by the mid-19th century controlled a vast amount of territory stretching from northern Saskatchewan to the southernmost waters of the Missouri. They were also known as the strongest and most aggressive military power on the northwestern plains, preventing white men, whom they considered poachers, from impinging on their land and their natural resources for a quarter of a century (“Blackfoot” Britannica Online). But the end of the nineteenth century saw a population decimated by the near extinction of the buffalo as well as repeated epidemics of smallpox and measles§. And though still dependent on the land, the remaining were forced onto reservations. By US policy and blindly placed into a way of life that lacked social cohesiveness and resulted in the weakening of native institutions and cultural practices (“Native American

The Blackfoot Indians of Alberta and Montana were divided into three closely related Algonkian-speaking tribes: the Piegan, the Blood and the Siksika, or Blackfoot proper. The name Blackfoot is believed to have been derived from the discoloration of moccasins from ashes . They were typical of the Plains Indians in that they were nomadic hunter-gatherers who lived in tipis (tepees) and subsisted mainly on buffalo; the separate bands would wander on foot in order to follow the herds (Martin 1996). Other animals such as deer and small game also contributed to the diet, as well as gathered vegetables. Fish were abundant thought they were only eaten in times of extreme necessity, such as when the buffalo populations dwindled.

An average buffalo bull provided a great deal of meat, about 700 kilograms. Prepared fresh, the meat was roasted on a spit or boiled in a skin bag by adding stones hot from the fire to make a rich soup. The remaining meat was either cut into thin slices and dried in the sun to produce jerky or it was made into pemmican, a high protein food which consisted of dried meat pounded into a powder and mixed with melted buffalo fat and berries. Both foods were packed tightly into skin bags and would remain edible for years. Almost nothing of the buffalo was wasted. Bones were fashioned into tools and a horn served as containers, sinew was used as thread and shaggy hair was braided into halters. Hooves were either made into rattles or boiled to make glue. The hides of the animal provided most of the clothing for the Indians and were sewn together to produce tipi covers (Ottawa 1996).

The women were experts in the tanning of skins, a long and tiring process. This process was considered so important that each woman was judged largely on the quality and quantity of the skins she tanned. Even making the simplest hard rawhide for moccasins was an exhausting process that required both sides of the skin to be scraped clean; soft skin took a week to produce. The woman also made the tip is, and therefore had ownership of them. In addition to the preparation meats and skin women made weapons, shields, tools, drums, and pipes, although men were the primary hunters (Ottawa 1996)

Military societies had the important function of policing and regulating life in camp and organizing the defenses. These military societies of the Blackfoot, known as the aiinikiks, or All-Comrades, had membership by purchase only and promotion in the various societies was age graded. A man could sell his membership to a younger man and then purchase that of an older man in the next appropriate society every four years. Age graded men’s society was a principle for organization among ceremonial groups, which may have otherwise lacked social stratification due to the absence of a division of labor or any other economic inequality. Each society had its own distinctive song and dance. The members of the Blackfoot societies wore headdresses made from the white winter skins of weasels; only a few important leaders of the Sioux wore the full feather headdress. White eagle feathers with sharp, black tips were highly regarded and, when worn in the hair, symbolized acts of bravery. The picture above is of a Piegan elder who would have been highly valued for his wisdom and experience.

Each Blackfoot tribe was divided into several hunting bands led by one or more chiefs and several councilors. Band membership was quite fluid and headman-ship was very informal. Success in war and ceremonial experience were the qualifications for head office, and as long as the headman provided benefits to his people they would stay with him. But if his generosity should slacken the members were free to leave. The bands wintered separately in river valleys and congregated each summer to observe the Sun Dance. There was also a head chief for each the three geographical tribes: the Piegan, the Blood, and the Blackfoot. His primary purpose was to call councils to discuss affairs of importance to the group.

Spirituality & the Sun Dance

”In the beginning all the world was water. One day the Old Man, also called Napi, was curious to find out what might be beneath the water. He sent animals to dive beneath the surface. First duck, then otter, then badger dived in vain. The Old Man sent muskrat diving to the depths. After a long time muskrat rode to the surface holding between his paws a little ball of mud and blew upon it. The mud began to swell, growing larger and larger until it became the whole earth.
The Old Man then made the people.”
(Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, 1996)

Spiritual beliefs and ceremonies were an important part of the Blackfoot culture. Their religious life centered upon medicine bundles which were individually owned and originated from a supernatural experience. It was the adolescent warrior who attempted the vision quest by going to a remote area and fasting until he had a vision. He would be given a war song or dance by a guardian spirit and be told of the magical amulets (such as feathers, birds’ beaks, or stones) that should be worn to give him power. Most failed and did not have a vision, in which case they would buy a bundle and its ritual. Individual bundles acquired much respect and gave its owner prestige, especially those associated with war such as headdresses and shields. (Martin 1996)

One of the most important bundles to the Blackfoot group as a whole was the Sun Dance bundle. Each year around the beginning of summer the separate wintering bands would gather to observe the Sun Dance, the principal religious ceremony. The buffalo, considered the very source of life and the major symbol of the Sun Dance, influenced the time and locality of the ceremony, which were chosen by the proximity of the buffalo herds. The overall importance of the Sun Dance was the renewal of personal spirituality as well as the renewal of the living earth, a time when kinships within both social and natural realms were reaffirmed; and by doing so prosperity and social harmony would be extended for another year.

After moving the camp on four successive days, the medicine bundle of the ceremony, the Sun Dance lodge, was built on the fifth day . It was here that the people gathered, though only a few men actually participated. They strove to obtain supernatural aid and enhance their personal power through sacrifice in order to become a more meaningful member of their society. The sacrifice required the participants to dance for three or four days while fasting and abstaining from drink. Skewers that pierced the skin and muscles of the men were used as part of the self torture and they performed such feats as hanging from the ceiling of the lodge by the skewers. This self-inflicted pain reflected their desire to return something of themselves to nature in exchange for past and future benefits.

The Creation was expressed in the Sun Dance by the use of symbolic objects that represented the attributes of various animal kin. Animals were viewed as wise and powerful and served as intermediaries between humans and the supernatural forces. The eagle was the chief of all creatures in the air and respected for his wisdom and wealth. The life sustaining buffalo was the central figure. Its’ tongue, considered the most sacred part, was consumed as a sacramental food during the ceremony and its’ skull was used to express the theme of rebirth as bone was presumed to be where the soul resided. The Sun Dance was an important part in reconciliation of killing the buffalo, which violates the kinship between animal and man. After the conclusion of the ceremony the lodge was abandoned and all animal objects left inside so they could return to the earth. This symbolized the renewal of the living and emphasized the necessity of human cooperation in order to bring about universal regeneration. (Lawrence 1996)

In 1904 the U.S. government banned the Sun Dance because of the self torture and mutilation it involved. The Blackfoot continued to celebrate their ritual, though often times in an altered form.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

the cliffs of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump In addition to its massive size the buffalo also had a keen sense of hearing and smell. Before the advent of horses and guns, the Blackfoot tribe, along with other Plains Indians, developed effective hunting techniques involving hundreds of people. The evidence of one such method can be seen today at a site just outside Fort Macloed, Alberta. In the picture to the right are the 10 meter high cliffs known as Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. It is one the oldest, largest and best preserved buffalo jumps in North America. The name refers to a young Piegan brave who stood below the sandstone cliffs to watch a hunt and was later found under a pile of buffalo with his skull crushed in (Corbett 1997). The jump is rich in prehistory; bone and tool beds nearly 11 meters thick lie beneath the cliffs. Radiocarbon dating of the bones establishes that the site was first used as a buffalo jump over 5,700 years ago, more than 500 years before the Stonehenge was built in England. There is also evidence from two 9,000 year old spear points that man visited during early prehistoric times, thought it is uncertain if the jump was used by these hunters (HSIBJ Official Site 1997).

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is just one part of a communal kill site complex. The buffalo would graze in the basins above the cliffs where the young men would disguise themselves under wolf and buffalo calf skins to lure and then push the herd into narrow drive lanes marked by stone cairns (heaps of stones), some of which are still evident. Along the way hunters hidden behind brush piles would jump up and wave buffalo robes to keep the animals going on course. There was a visual deception that made the land above and below the cliff appear unbroken; the buffalo, usually galloping at full speed, were unable to stop or veer away once they saw the cliff. After the drive hunters used spears to finish off the buffalo as the 10 meter fall didn’t always immediately kill the animals (Corbett 1997). The carcasses were then dragged to the nearby campsite for butchering and skinning, a task shared by the hunters. The meat was divided accordingly to the need of each family while special allotments were made for the sick and elderly. Communal hunts took place in June, July, and August when the buffalo fat and their meat prime.

Out of respect of kinship with the buffalo and the sense of eating their own flesh the Blackfeet describe the hunt as leading the buffalo and calling to them, not driving or chasing them to their death. It was a good life that sustained itself for thousands of years, but it all ended in less than a century with the arrival of the horse and gun in 1730.

Today the Blackfoot tribes reside on four reservations. Over 6,000 Indians, mostly of Piegan decent, live on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana (also known as Pikuni); fewer than 20 percent are full blood. In addition, there are more than 9,000 Indians living on the Blackfoot, Blood, and Piegan reservations in Alberta.
Comment by LadyHawkღ on July 24, 2010 at 10:41am
The Cold Maker

Comment by LadyHawkღ on July 24, 2010 at 10:40am
“The world of the Blackfeet , their entire universe, is inhabited by good and evil spirits. The realm of the supernatural is accepted as a significant part of everyday life, without the need to analyze or rationalize it. They believe in the "Sun Power" as the source of all power. It is everywhere; in the mountains, lakes, rivers, birds, and wild animals, and this power can be transferred to people. The gift, usually in the form of songs, comes through the medium of some animal, bird, or supernatural being, whose pity for the person comes when the person demonstrates his need through fasting. The songs received are means to contact the spirit powers. The power bestowed can heal the sick, help the tribe, or bring success in war. Today, the Blackfeet belief in the spirit world remains strong.”
Comment by LadyHawkღ on July 12, 2010 at 10:39pm

Comment by LadyHawkღ on July 12, 2010 at 10:38pm

Comment by LadyHawkღ on July 12, 2010 at 10:38pm


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