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Blackfoot religion

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The Blackfeet are a tribe of Native Americans who currently live in Montana and Alberta. They lived northwest of the Great Lakes and came to participate in Plains Indian culture.

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Blackfoot Confederacy

Blackfoot Confederacy

The Blackfoot Confederacy, Niitsitapi, or Siksikaitsitapi, is a historic collective name for linguistically related groups that make up the Blackfoot or Blackfeet people: the Siksika ("Blackfoot"), the Kainai or Blood, and two sections of the Peigan or Piikani – the Northern Piikani (Aapátohsipikáni) and the Southern Piikani. Broader definitions include groups such as the Tsúùtínà (Sarcee) and A'aninin who spoke quite different languages but allied with or joined the Blackfoot Confederacy.

Native Americans in the United States

Native Americans in the United States

Native Americans, also known as American Indians, First Americans, Indigenous Americans, and other terms, are the Indigenous peoples of the mainland United States. There are 574 federally recognized tribes living within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. As defined by the United States Census, "Native Americans" are Indigenous tribes that are originally from the contiguous United States, along with Alaska Natives. Indigenous peoples of the United States who are not listed as American Indian or Alaska Native include Native Hawaiians, Samoan Americans, and Chamorros. The US Census groups these peoples as "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders".



Montana is a state in the Mountain West division of the Western United States. It is bordered by Idaho to the west, North Dakota and South Dakota to the east, Wyoming to the south, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan to the north. It is the fourth-largest state by area, the eighth-least populous state, and the third-least densely populated state. Its state capital is Helena, while the largest city is Billings. The western half of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges, while the eastern half is characterized by western prairie terrain and badlands, with smaller mountain ranges found throughout the state.



Alberta is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada. It is part of Western Canada and is one of the three prairie provinces. Alberta is bordered by British Columbia to the west, Saskatchewan to the east, the Northwest Territories (NWT) to the north, and the U.S. state of Montana to the south. It is one of the only two landlocked provinces in Canada. The eastern part of the province is occupied by the Great Plains, while the western part borders the Rocky Mountains. The province has a predominantly continental climate but experiences quick temperature changes due to air aridity. Seasonal temperature swings are less pronounced in western Alberta due to occasional Chinook winds.

Great Lakes

Great Lakes

The Great Lakes, also called the Great Lakes of North America, are a series of large interconnected freshwater lakes in the mid-east region of North America that connect to the Atlantic Ocean via the Saint Lawrence River. There are five lakes, which are Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario and are in general on or near the Canada–United States border. Hydrologically, lakes Michigan and Huron are a single body joined at the Straits of Mackinac. The Great Lakes Waterway enables modern travel and shipping by water among the lakes.


In Blackfeet Indian mythology, the supernatural world is dominated by the Sun. The Sun (Nah-too-si; Super powered or Holiness) is equated with the Creator (Apistotoke) by some anthropologists.[1] The Creator is said to have created the earth and everything in the universe.[2] Nah-too-si is sometimes personified by the mystical Napi, or Old Man. Napi was said to have been sent by the Nah-too-si to teach people how to live a sinless life, like He and his wife, Ksah-koom-aukie, Earth Woman. A-pi-su'-ahts(early riser) was the only surviving child of Sun and Moon, after the rest were attacked and killed by pelicans.[3] Napi is said to have given the Blackfoot visions and, by implication, Blackfoot music.

The numbers four and seven, the cardinal directions, the six principle points and center, are important in Blackfoot mythology. Communication is believed to occur between the supernatural world and Blackfoot through visions of guardian spirits, during which songs and ceremonies may be imparted, such as that of medicine bundles. The physical world is seen as just a glimpse of the spiritual dimension, which is actually the true reality.[4] The Blackfoot people name themselves "Real People"[5] in comparison to anyone that does not possess the ability to communicate with the spirit world like the members of the Blackfoot tribe.

Ceremonies include the Sun Dance, called Medicine Lodge by the Blackfoot in English,[6] in which sacrifices would be made to Sun. According to the legend the ceremony, the Sun Dance, was started when a human woman, named Feather-woman fell in love with Morning Star, the child of Sun and Moon. After plucking the sacred turnip she and her half-divine son were banished from the Sky-Country, and eventually she died leaving her son, Poïa (Scar-Face), orphaned. Eventually he makes his way back to Sky-Country and because his grandparents, Sun and Moon, took mercy on him he honored them by doing the Sun Dance once a year.[7] These sacrifices ranged from offering sweat,[8] through the use of sweat lodges to actual offerings of flesh, for example men from the tribe would rip off ropes tied to their skin as sacrifices to Sun.[9] The Medicine Lodge would require the Blackfoot to promise vows of eventual sacrifice to Sun throughout the year after requesting protection from war or for family members, or after praying for the health of the tribe.[10]

Other deities and spirits

There are three subsections for which minor deities(and/or personifications of nature and animals) are placed into: Above Persons, Ground Persons, and Under Water Persons. Deities such as Thunder, Wind Maker, and Cold Maker were worshipped to influence certain changes in nature like bringing rain and stopping storms.[11]

Amskapipikuni is said to be the inventor of tobacco and made the first war-time killing with an aspen stick.

The Sta-au are believed to be a type of ghost, specifically the ghosts of cruel men and women. Most of the deceased are said to live in certain parts of the hills, but the Sta-au are said to hang around camps. They are believed to cause bad luck and harm to living people, especially in the morning.

Buffalo Dance

Historically, one of the primary sources of food many other needs for the Blackfoot was the American Bison, colloquially referred to as the "buffalo". Which is Natusi in Blackfeet Language. The Buffalo Dance commemorates this reliance.[12]

The typical hunting method was to drive a herd off of a cliff, and butcher them after they died at the bottom.[13]

The night before the hunt, the shaman ceremonially smoked tobacco and prayed to the sun. His wives were not allowed to leave their home, nor even look outside, until he returned; they were to pray to the sun and continually burn sweet grass. Fasting and dressed in a bison headdress, the shaman led a group of people at the head of a V formation. He attracted the herd's attention and brought them near the cliff; they were then scared by other men hiding behind them, who waved their robes and shouted. The bison ran off the cliff and died at the rocks below.

According to legend, at one point the bison refused to go over the cliff. A woman walking underneath the cliff saw a herd right on the edge and pledged to marry one which jumped down. One did so and survived, turning into many dead buffalo at the bottom of the cliff. The woman's people ate the meat and the young woman left with the buffalo. Her father went in search of her. When he stopped to rest, he told a magpie to search for his daughter and tell her where he was. The magpie found the woman and told her where her father was located. The woman met her father but refused to go home, frightened that the bison would kill her and her father; she said to wait until they were all asleep and would not miss her for some time. When she returned to the bison, her husband smelled another person and, gathering his herd, found the father and trampled him to death. The woman cried and her husband said that if she could bring her father back to life, they could both return to their tribe. The woman asked the magpie to find a piece of her father's body; he found a piece of his spine. The woman covered the bone with her robe and sang a song. She was successful and her father was reincarnated. Impressed, the woman's husband taught them a dance which would attract the bison and ensure success in the hunt and which would restore the dead bison to life, just as the woman had restored her father to life. The father and daughter returned to their tribe and taught a small group of men, eventually known as I-kun-uh'-kah-tsi ("all compatriots"), the dances.

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Source: "Blackfoot religion", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 28th),

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  1. ^ "Natosi, The Blackfoot Sun God (Natos, Notos)". Native-Languages.Org, 2015, Accessed 3 Apr 2019.
  2. ^ "Creation". Blackfootcrossing.Ca, 2018, by Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park Accessed 3 Apr 2019.
  3. ^ Sattler, Richard A.; Howard, James H. (1985). "Oklahoma Seminoles: Medicines, Magic, and Religion". Ethnohistory. 32 (4): 403. doi:10.2307/481914. ISSN 0014-1801.
  4. ^ LaPier, Rosalyn R. (2017-09-01). Invisible Reality. UNP - Nebraska. ISBN 978-1-4962-0240-6.
  5. ^ Lokensgard, Kenneth H. (2014), "Blackfoot Nation", Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion, Boston, MA: Springer US, pp. 184–188, retrieved 2021-11-10
  6. ^ Block, Michael D. “Blackfeet.” Encyclopedia of Native American History, Volume 1, Facts On File, 2011. American Indian History, Accessed 7 Oct. 2021.
  7. ^ Spence, Lewis (1915). "The Myths and Legends of the North American Indians". The Journal of Race Development. 6 (1): 107. doi:10.2307/29738110. hdl:2027/uiug.30112052589550. ISSN 1068-3380.
  8. ^ Lokensgard, Kenneth H. (2014), "Blackfoot Nation", Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion, Boston, MA: Springer US, pp. 184–188, retrieved 2021-11-10
  9. ^ Ostler, Jeffrey (2015-03-02), "Genocide and American Indian History", Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, Oxford University Press, retrieved 2021-11-10
  10. ^ Crooks, Alan F. (1966). "Blackfoot Lodge Tales: The Story of a Prairie People by George Bird Grinnell". Western American Literature. 1 (1): 68–69. doi:10.1353/wal.1966.0018. ISSN 1948-7142.
  11. ^ Crooks, Alan F. (1966). "Blackfoot Lodge Tales: The Story of a Prairie People by George Bird Grinnell". Western American Literature. 1 (1): 68–69. doi:10.1353/wal.1966.0018. ISSN 1948-7142.
  12. ^ (2019). Plains Indian Buffalo Dance - Native American Dancing. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Apr. 2019].
  13. ^ Buffalo Bill Center of the West. (2019). Plains Indian Museum: Buffalo & the People - Hunt. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Apr. 2019].
  • Nettl, Bruno (1989). Blackfoot Musical Thought: Comparative Perspectives. Ohio: The Kent State University Press. ISBN 0-87338-370-2
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