as one of the most powerful
tribes in the American northwest, the Blackfeet are a confederacy of
independent tribes presently living in Montana and Alberta, Canada. The
name "Blackfeet" originates from the distinctive black hue of their
either painted that color or perhaps darkened by prairie fires.
scholars believe that the Blackfeet
migrated westward over three centuries ago from the northern Great
region; their language belongs to the Algonkian linguistic family
in that region) and other aspects of their culture, i.e., utensils,
etc. This westward migration is thought to have been caused by the
nature (among Indians in the region) of supplying French traders with
animal furs and pelts.
Blackfeet quickly assimilated in
to a nomadic type of existence in the northern plains; plentiful
assured them of a strong future. A shaman or medicine man aided the
through the powerful use of the talisman to help lure the buffalo to
the early 1700's, extensive trade
was going on with the Midwest and east coast settlers. Buffalo hides
traded for many different items, not the least of which were horses and
guns. These two items radically changed the nature of the buffalo hunt;
thus there was more time to develop more ornate cultural items,
and myths to tell their stories and educate their young people.
most sacred yearly event was the
sun dance, or Medicine Lodge Ceremony. As a communal event, the
and other Plains tribes would gather in mid-summer to fulfill vows to
the well-being of the community through the continued abundance of the
time of prosperity and growth was
soon cut short by the invasion of white settlers into Indian territory.
the greatest devastation
to the Indian people was the near extinction of the buffalo by the
settlers. Their main food source gone and not having yet taken up the
of farming, the Blackfeet were forced with total dependence upon the
Agency for food. The winter of 1884 was a cruel one; over 600 Indians
to death reducing the tribe to some 1,400 people.
help the tribe live in the white man's
world, the government and religious organizations setup schools and
programs to educate the Blackfeet children and help create jobs on the
reservation. The aim of these ventures was to educate the Blackfeet
so that the can have their own governance and self-determination.
of the Blackfeet have served with
honor and distinctions in the armed services; their example and
have been example to younger generations here on the reservation.
an estimated 14,000 Blackfeet in
the world today, approximately 8,500 live on the reservation. The town
of Browning is the seat of the tribal government as well as the site of
the annual North American Indian Days celebration in mid-Jul.
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