The Plains Tribes: The Blackfoot

Figure 1.-- This portrait shows Reuben Black Boy and his family. They were members of the Blsackfoot Piegan band. The portrait was taken in 1910 by Curtis Edward.

Blackfeet has become the official name of this tribe, although it is name given to them by white authorities. Whites noted the dark colored moccasins of the tribe. The name is not plural in the Blackfoot language. Some American Blackfoot people (in Montana object to the pluralization.) The Blackfoot tribe were nomadic plains hunters. The Blackfoot who fought the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Crow, Nez Perce, Shoshone, and Sioux, settled along the Snake River country and the Three Forks of the Missouri River in Montana. They were an important buffalo-hunting tribe of the northern plains. Their hunting grounds centered on what is now Montana and Idaho in America and neigboring Alberta in Canada. There are four Blackfoot bands: three in Canada (North Peigan, Kainai, and Siksika) and one in the United States (South Piegan). the Blackfoot nation was led by a council of chiefs, one from each clan. The Blackfoot were at first friendly with the Europeans, in part because they brought horses needed for bufalo hunting. Gradually relastions worsened. The Blackfeet like other Native american tribes were affected by European diseases to which they had no resistance--especially smallpox. The Blackfeet were descimated by the Indian Wars following the Civil War. Mountain Chief led a hostile band that resisted the U.S. Calvalry. The Plans Tribes' economic base was undermined by the destruction of the Great Plains bufalo heards. Many Blackfeet starved to death. The Government forced the Blackfeet into sedentary reservation life. The Blackfeet have done better at prederving their culture. About half of the Blackfoot speak their native language. It is a musical language that has especially complicated verbs. It is one of the few Native American languages that may survive as a living language.


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Created: 3:49 AM 12/13/2009
Last updated: 3:49 AM 12/13/2009