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Blackfoot

Is the name of the tribe "Blackfoot" or "Blackfeet"? Where did this name come from?

"Blackfoot" is the English translation of the word siksika, which means "black foot." It refers to the dark colored moccasins the people wear.

Where do the Blackfeet Indians live?

The Blackfeet Indians are original residents of Montana and Alberta, Canada. Most Blackfoot people still live there today.

What language do the Blackfeet speak?

Most Blackfoot Indians speak English today, but about half of them also speak their native Blackfoot language. . Most Blackfoot words are very long and difficult for English speakers to pronounce, but one easy word that you might like to learn is "Oki" (pronounced "oh-kee,") which means "Hello!"

How do Blackfoot Indian children live, and what did they do for recreation?

Blackfoot children do the same things all children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house. Many Blackfoot children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past, Indian kids had more chores and less time to play, just like colonial children. But they did have dolls, toys, and special games.

Blackfoot mothers, like many Native Americans, carried their babies in cradleboards on their backs--a custom which many American parents have adopted now.

What were Blackfoot men and women's roles?

Blackfoot women were in charge of the home. Besides cooking and cleaning, a Blackfoot woman built her family's house and dragged the heavy posts with her whenever the tribe moved. Houses belonged to the women in the Blackfoot tribe.

Blackfoot men were hunters and sometimes went to war to defend their families. Most Blackfoot chiefs and warriors were men. Both genders took part in storytelling, artwork and music, and traditional medicine.

What were Blackfoot homes like in the past?

The Blackfoot lived in buffalo-hide houses called tipis (or teepees). Since the Blackfeet moved frequently to follow the buffalo herds, a tipi was carefully designed to set up and break down quickly, like a modern tent. An entire Blackfoot village could be packed up and ready to move within an hour.

What was Blackfoot clothing like? Did they wear feather headdresses and face paint?

Blackfoot women wore long deerskin dresses. Men wore buckskin tunics and breechcloths with leggings. Blackfoot dresses and war shirts were fringed and often decorated with porcupine quills, beads, and elk teeth. Both Blackfeet women and men wore moccasins on their feet and buffalo-hide robes in cold weather. Later, Blackfoot people adopted some European costume such as calico dresses and felt hats. Here are more pictures of Blackfoot clothing, and some photos and links about Indian clothing in general.

Blackfeet chiefs wore tall feather headdresses, different from the long warbonnets of the Sioux. Men wore their hair in three braids with a topknot or pompadour, and women wore their hair loose or in two thicker braids. Blackfeet people painted their faces for special occasions. They used different patterns for war paint, religious ceremonies, and festive decoration.

What was Blackfoot transportation like in the days before cars? Did they paddle canoes?

Blackfoot Indians weren't coastal people, and when they traveled by river, they usually built rafts. There were no horses in North America until colonists brought them over from Europe, so the Blackfeet used to use dogs pulling travois (a kind of drag sled) to help them carry their belongings over land.

What was Blackfoot food like in the days before supermarkets?

The Blackfoot staple food was buffalo. Blackfoot men usually hunted the buffalo by driving them off cliffs or stalking them with bow and arrow. As they acquired horses, the Blackfoot tribe began to pursue the buffalo herds for communal hunts, moving their villages often as the buffalo migrated. In addition to buffalo meat, the Blackfoot Indians ate small game like ground squirrels, nuts and berries, and steamed camas roots.

What are Blackfoot arts and crafts like?

Blackfoot artists are known for their fine quill embroidery and beadwork.
 
What were Blackfoot weapons and tools like in the past?

Blackfoot hunters and warriors fired arrows from powerful longbows or fought with clubs and hide shields. Traditionally most warriors were men, but some Plains Indian women, especially widows, would ride to war with the men.

What kinds of stories do the Blackfeet tell?

There are lots of traditional Blackfoot legends and fairy tales. Storytelling is very important to the Blackfoot Indian culture.

Who were some famous Blackfeet Indians?

One famous Blackfoot Indian chief was Crowfoot, who led the Blackfoot people in Canada during the second half of the 19th century. Crowfoot was an accomplished warrior and a gifted diplomat. He was most famous for negotiating peace between the Blackfoot and Canadian governments, and for fighting alcoholism among the Blackfoot people. Crowfoot was also the adopted father of the Cree chief Poundmaker, and became close friends with the Sioux leader Sitting Bull.