The Blackfeet or Blackfoot is a Native American tribe that was originally located in Canada, Montana, and Idaho. The majority of the tribe is located in Alberta, Canada, where three of the four Blackfeet bands are established. The Blackfeet can be found in the Great Plains, around many rivers and mountains. Some of these rivers include the Yellowstone River and the Missouri River. Also, just east of the Rocky Mountains, a major boundary in the past, members of the Blackfeet have been spotted.
Although the area did not get much rainfall, the climate was relatively warm. Presently, a Blackfoot reservation can be located in Montana, east of the Glacier National Park. In the past the population was around 5,200 people, but has now grown to about 32,234 members. The Blackfeet took their weapons and the topic of warfare very seriously. They were the best hunters, fighters, and raiders in the Great Plains and often times found themselves at war with their rivals, the Shoshone.
Regarding weapons, the Blackfeet traditionally used 3-foot long bows made of horn and arrows held in otter skin quivers. Other weapons included war clubs, guns, and buffalo hide shields. During a raid or battle, the Blackfoot warriors were honored for taking a horse or a scalp, but it was even better if they stole a gun. Before a battle, the Blackfoot tribe would do a variety of things, such as calling upon spiritual powers, singing war songs, and using face paint, lucky charms, and war medicine. People of the Blackfoot tribe wore a certain type of clothing.
The woman donned long deerskin dresses, while the men clothed themselves in buckskin tunics with breechcloths that had leggings sewn into them. Most of the people wear feathers in their hair, but only for special occasions, like dances or festivals. Blackfoot dresses and war shirts were often decorated with porcupine quills, elk teeth, and beads. The entire tribe wore moccasins and buffalo hide robes in the winter. However, chiefs of the tribe wore a different type of clothing, sometimes tall feather headdresses and decorated robes.
Today, the Blackfoot tribe can be found wearing modern clothing, like jeans. In order to feed their families and survive the Blackfeet had to hunt for their food. Buffalo meat was a staple in their diet. They prepared it by either boiling, roasting, or drying it. If dried, the buffalo meat was stored in rawhide pouches. Another staple was pemmican, a mixture of ground buffalo meat, service berries, and marrow grease. The Blackfeet used pemmican in the winter when live buffalo were scarce.
While the Blackfeet men were out hunting large game, like deer, elk, moose, mountain sheep, antelope, and buffalo, the women could be found collecting roots, turnips, and camas bulbs. To supplement their diet, the Blackfeet preferred to use berries. The history and culture of the Blackfoot tribe provides valuable insight into the tribe’s peoples’ diet, warfare, clothing, and location. Through studying this tribe, present-day people are allowed to learn more about the importance of this particular tribe.
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