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The Blackfoot (also called “Blackfeet”) are a Native American nation who were once nomadic. They migrated from the Great Lakes region to the northwestern United States. They lived in the northern Great Plains, especially in the rich bison ranges of southern Alberta and northern Montana.
See the fact file below for more information on the Blackfoot or alternatively, you can download our 29-page Blackfoot worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta
- Head-Smashed-In is in Alberta, Canada. Its classification as a World Heritage Site means it’s recognized by the United Nations as being of great international importance and deserving of special protection.
- This cliff was used by the Blackfoot as a “buffalo jump” or pishkun (PEESH-koon), which means “deep blood kettle”, in Algonquian (Al-gone-key-in). Sounds scary, right? For both the bison and the hunter, it was!
- Practiced before guns and horses were available, it was a very dangerous hunting method due to the risk of being attacked or trampled by scared and angry bison! To the Blackfoot, though, the success of these limited number of hunts, which took place in autumn, determined whether they’d have enough resources to survive the long, cold winter ahead.
- Experienced hunters worked together and hid amongst tall plains grass — typically downwind from the herd. When the time was right, they’d rush the animals, hollering and brandishing weapons. The startled herd would stampede.
- If the hunt went well, they’d chase some of the bison off the pishkun. Other tribe members waited at the bottom to kill them using spears, skin them, and prepare them for use. Very little of the animal was wasted. Some of the bison bones found at the bottom of Head-Smashed-In show it had been used for hunting bison for over 6,000 years.
Quick Facts: The Blackfoot
- The Blackfoot Confederacy (aka. The Blackfoot Nation) is made up of THREE indigenous nations: the Kainai, Piikani, and Siksika.
- All Blackfoot nations share the official language, Algonquian (Al-GONE-key-in), but each have their own dialect.
- The arrival of Europeans in the 1800s changed everything for the Blackfeet.
- Europeans brought horses and guns, which helped with hunting, but they also brought diseases that Native Americans had no immunity to. Smallpox and measles wiped out a significant percent of the Blackfeet population.
- Unfortunately, even the convenience of horses and guns came at a price. With faster transport and stronger weapons — not to mention new hunting competition arriving from Europe — the Blackfoot became even more efficient at hunting bison.
- This resulted in over-hunting of the bison and a dramatic decline in their population. The near extinction of this vital food source and revered animal almost wiped out the remaining Blackfeet through starvation.
- In the 2016 Canadian census, only 22,490 Canadians identified as having Blackfoot ancestry.
- There are also many other people who are Blackfoot descendants but are not tribal members.
- Blackfoot Native Americans are generally very spiritual and believe strongly in the power and wisdom of nature, and in the spirits of their ancestors.
- Blackfoot believe everything has a spirit, whether alive or dead, and can be good or evil.
- The Blackfoot’s most important spiritual ceremony is the Sun Dance, which is also known as the Medicine Lodge Ceremony.
- The Sun Dance is a yearly event that takes place during the summer and centers around dancing, singing, prayer and fasting, with the buffalo being the highlight of the ceremony.
- Because they relied on bison so much, the ceremony was a way to honor the bison.
- The Blackfeet were known for mastering several forms of art including embroidery, basket-making, and beading.
- BLACKFOOT MEN’S CLOTHING:
- Buckskin tunics and breechcloths, with leggings and moccasins.
- A buffalo-hide robe in the cold months.
- Hair was parted into three braids with a topknot or high pompadour.
- BLACKFOOT WOMEN’S CLOTHING:
- Moccasins and long deerskin dresses with fringes, often decorated with porcupine quills, beads, and elk teeth.
- Earrings were common and typically made from shells or semi-precious metals.
- Elk eye teeth (aka. “tusks”) were prized possessions. Women wore them as decorations.
- Hair was worn loose or in two thick braids.
- Later, Blackfoot people adopted some European styles, such as calico dresses and felt hats.
- BLACKFOOT WARRIORS:
- War shirts were fringed and elaborately decorated as a status symbol.
- Men who had achieved a certain level of status would wear a grizzly bear paw on a necklace.
- Faces were painted for special occasions. Different patterns were used for war paint, religious ceremonies, and festive decoration.
- BLACKFOOT CHIEFS:
- Chiefs wore tall feather headdresses of great cultural importance, which signified the highest stature among them.
The Blackfoot Tipi
- Not only did art decorate their clothing, but it could also be seen on their colorful tipis and everyday tools.
- The titi was a tall, conical structure that could be easily dismantled and moved to a new location. Animal hides kept it weather- and waterproof and the opening at the top allowed for ventilation.
The Blackfeet Women
- Blackfeet women are very important in their culture. Owning and caring for the tipi in which they lived was their responsibility.
- Many women were religious leaders, and were responsible for teaching children about their culture.
- Blackfeet women had the choice of becoming warriors or homemakers.
Politics of the Blackfoot
- Blackfoot bands share a common language and culture, but they were politically independent.
- Each band had its own government, laws, law enforcers, and services, just like a small country.
- Each Blackfoot community lived on its own reservation or reserve, which means the land belonged to the tribe and is under their control.
- The Blackfeet people valued harmony, so every chief had to agree on a decision before action could be taken (this is called consensus).
- The Piikani, Kainai, and Siksika were frequent allies and were sometimes known as the “Blackfoot Confederacy”, but each group always had its own leadership and made its own decisions.
- They fought with those living in close proximity to them including the Assiniboine, Cree, Crows, Flatheads, Kutenai, and the Sioux.
Famous Blackfeet People
- Crowfoot, a famous Blackfoot Chief and warrior, was responsible for signing a peace treaty with the Canadian government.
- Of the many battles he fought, he felt that the toughest battle was one he could not win against alcoholism among his people.
- Besides Chief Crowfoot, some of the most famous leaders and chiefs of the Blackfoot tribe included Morning Owl, Red Crow, Heavy Runner, Mountain Chief, Yellow Horse, Red Plume, and Chief Running Rabbit.
- Kalani Queypo is a well-known actor with a Blackfoot heritage. He can be seen in movies such as The Royal Tenenbaums and The Juror.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Blackfoot across 29 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Blackfoot worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Blackfoot (also called “Blackfeet”) which are a Native American nation who were once nomadic. They migrated from the Great Lakes region to the northwestern United States. They lived in the northern Great Plains, especially in the rich bison ranges of southern Alberta and northern Montana.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Blackfoot Facts
- Four Bands
- Sun Dance
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Link will appear as Blackfoot Tribe Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 22, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
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