The Blackfoot of The North American Plains

The Blackfoot people live in the northern Plains in Alberta, Canada, and Montana, USA. We are made up of three groups:

  • The Siksika were usually found in the north and eastern part of the territory. This name translates as Blackfoot.
  • The Kainai lived in the central part of the territory. Kainai means Many Leaders. We are also known as the Bloods.
  • The Pikani camped along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and the southern edge of the territory. Today they are divided into the Amsskaapipikani (Southern Pikani) in Montana and the Apatohsipikani (Northern Pikani) in southwestern Alberta.

Although we all share a common language and culture, there are differences among our tribes in some of our practices.

Traditionally, our people were nomadic. We travelled constantly throughout our Territory, hunting game and collecting plants. In the past, we were not united in any formal alliance, but because the three divisions often supported one another, many people referred to us as the Blackfoot Confederacy. Today we live a modern life on four reserves in the United States and Canada, and we work together to find ways to keep our culture alive.

We call ourselves Nitsitapii, although we are known as the Blackfoot. We have many stories of the Spomi-tapi-ksi (the Sky Beings) who are part of our world and who have helped us and taught us many important lessons. The Spomi-tapi-ksi guide us on our journeys and define the seasons.

All beings must coexist to survive in the world. The Spomi-tapi-ksi stories are used to teach respect for all of life and to encourage peaceful coexistence. We have many stories about people who have died and become stars. These stories remind us of proper behaviours.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Australian Museums & Galleries Online, Australia; Centre of the Universe; Gemini Observatory, Hawaii; Glenbow Museum; The Manitoba Museum; National Research Council Canada; Planétarium de Montréal

© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003

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