Blackfoot - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Aboriginally, the religious life of the Blackfoot centered upon medicine bundles, and there were more than fifty of them among the three main Blackfoot groups. The most important bundles to the group as a whole were the beaver bundles, the medicine pipe bundles, and the Sun Dance bundle. Christianity is practiced now by most Southern Piegan with Roman Catholicism predominating. The Blackfoot apparently never adopted the Ghost Dance, nor is the Peyote Cult present. The Sun Dance and other native religious ceremonies are still practiced among most of the Blackfoot groups.

Ceremonies. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the Sun Dance had become an important ceremony. It was performed once each year during the summer. The Sun Dance among the Blackfoot was similar to the ceremony that was performed in other Plains cultures, though there were some differences: a woman played the leading role among the Blackfoot, and the symbolism and paraphernalia used were derived from beaver bundle ceremonialism. The Blackfoot Sun Dance included the following: (1) moving the camp on four successive days; (2) on the fifth day, building the medicine lodge, transferring bundles to the medicine woman, and offering of gifts by children and adults in ill health; (3) on the sixth day, dancing toward the sun, blowing eagle-bone whistles, and self-torture; and (4) on the remaining four days, performing various ceremonies of the men's societies.

Arts. Singing groups were an important form of social intercourse. Porcupine quillwork was considered a sacred craft and some men were highly skilled painters of buffalo-skin shields and tipi covers. Today, achievement in traditional arts and crafts is valued as a sign of Indian identity. Consequently, there are skilled Blackfoot dancers, artists, carvers, leather- and beadworkers, orators, and singers whose work is known both within and beyond Blackfoot society.

Medicine. Illness was attributed to an evil spirit entering the body. Treatment by the shaman was directed at removing the spirit through singing, drumming, and the like. Some practitioners specialized in treating certain illnesses, setting broken bones, and so on.

Death and Afterlife. The dead were placed on a platform in a tree or the tipi, or on the floor of the tipi. Some property was left with the body for use in the next life. The Blackfoot feared the ghosts of the dead, and if a person died in a tipi, that tipi was never used again.

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Sep 20, 2011 @ 6:18 pm
what are the roles of men and women and children.
what are there living arrangements?
what are the status of women?
what do they do for hunting and agriculture practice?
what is the class structure?
tasia
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Oct 4, 2012 @ 12:12 pm
why do people call Blackfoot Indians Blackfeet?
do the Blackfoot hate the Blackfeet?
are the Blackfoot and the Blackfeet the same or do they hate each other?
Lily
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Nov 13, 2012 @ 11:23 pm
Yes the Blackfeet and the Blackfoot are the same, Blackfeet is just the plural of Blackfoot. There are many reasons why they are called the Blackfeet Indians, they say that there moccasins were black, but why? There are many hypothesis, one is that since they lived in the North(Montana, Alberta, Canada) that they moccasins got dirty because of the dark soil.
Ed Lewis
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Nov 24, 2012 @ 3:15 pm
What can you tell me about the Blackfoot rejection of the ghost dance? Who were the Shamon opposed to this dance?
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Jan 11, 2013 @ 10:22 pm
It was given to me that the Blackfeet came to be when White cavalaries searched out bands of natives to slaughter under the guise of their self proclaimed manifest destiny, the Blackfoot nation was the largest in number of the plains people in all the land. As it came to be known that a great white soldier, chief, general what-ever was coming with a larger than usual army to kill natives of every people. Many chiefs and council members of every nation across all the plaines came together and made a pact to fight as one against this 'long knife' (refering to the saber he was known to brandish). As the proposal came to the Blackfoot council to attend this gathering of nations, suspicion developed strongly among the Blackfoot that this was all a trap of other nations who had warred against the Blackfoot since forever for an opportunity to finally gain an upper hand against such a mighty people. And as to the threat of this coming long knife and his army well what of those of other nations who ride with them and scout for them is this not proof of the cunning of the enemies of the Blackfoot people that we are about to be set upon with the help of this advancing long knife and his army. It was declared by an especially militant faction of the Blackfoot that ' If you are intent upon trusting to join council with those other nations and find yourselves set upon by them as well as the forth coming White armies then we will hereby seperate ourselves from you and hensforth know ourselves as the Blackfeet! and we will go up into the high hills of this land cutting off our trail and no one shall come into these hills behind us, not even you forever and when we see the battle smoke rising to us of this great treachery, we the Blackfeet shall mount and ride down in great vengence and we will wipe from this earth every living thing still standing'. With this they rode up into the hills of what is today Browning Montana.
The Confederated council did convene, the long knife general and his army did come, Only rather than the ensuing army of white soldiers and the long knife massacuring all they surveyed, it was the combined efforts of all the warring great plaines nations of the Americas that day who prevailed. And the Blackfeet rode down from their hills as they said they would and were ready to decimate all who remained. Yet upon seeing the White soldiers streatched out and dead as far as the eye could see and only natives riding, walking, tending to the wounded of every nation, Blackfoot helping Souix, Cheyenne helping Crowe with children of every nation gathering the spoils of war as the Blackfeet awed in solemn wonder that this has been a great day for all Natives every where for they saw that all the nations did indeed work together and defeated the greatest enemy ever to all peoples everywhere. Out of great respect to this day, to this confederated battle the Blackfeet took every elaborately ornamented lance, every newly constructed and smoke blessed bow and every smudged prayed arrow, every priceless weapon brought to do harm and stuck them into the ground before them, there they left them to show that the Blackfeet had been there. They turned and left without taking so much as a pistol, a momento, a scalp or a life and rode back up into the hills of Montana. I choose to believe this tale for it was given to me as truth of other Blackfeet so long ago.
A. Donaldson
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May 15, 2013 @ 4:16 pm
I recently learned that my father, grandfather and grandmother are Blackfoot. I would like to know if I am Blackfoot, as well, all though my mother is black.
Keisha R
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Jul 7, 2013 @ 2:14 pm
I grew up being told that I was Blackfoot, and Cherokee I never knew what I should have known about my background as far as being educated on black foot culture. Now I am a single mother and I fear that my son will grow up to be as lost as I was growing up. Many days my fillings was hurt living in Little Rock Arkansas seeing other Indians that knew so much about who they are and could tell you exactly were they come form speaking the language, I was lost. in many ways today I'm still lost, How do fill my life understanding more about who I am? so that I can teach my son, and all the children in my family I hope by becoming more informed I wont fill as lost incomplete so empty the way I do. I find my self researching many things on the enter net trying to fill in holes I have in my life. Thank you so much I hope my comment comes back to me with a answer on how I can start to teach my family of our Blackfoot culture, would Blackfoot's happen to have traditional foods that are made? if so I would love to know more, Thank you ever so much.
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Sep 2, 2013 @ 12:00 am
Im looking for any information on a medicine woman named ruby dixon. she was my great great grandmother. Any and all information would be greatly appreciated...
summer
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Oct 8, 2013 @ 3:15 pm
the Blackfoot were real warriors and they were respected and in the afterlife they would leave items for the afterlife for the dead person they were very ill back then
nerd13
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Oct 24, 2013 @ 3:15 pm
I am a Blackfoot Indian my great great great great great great great great grandpa was a Blackfoot Indian so that's how I became one.
bev
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Apr 3, 2014 @ 3:15 pm
There is only one band among the tribe that can be called blackout. There are four divisions collectively we were called the Weasel Tribe because of our many weasel adornments. There is the North and South Peigans, the Kainai and the Blackfoot proper. These names were given to us by the non-natives.
barbara
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Jul 7, 2014 @ 10:10 am
I come from a family that was Blackfoot. My greatgrandmother was full blackfoot, Miranda Rainwater. My precious grandtfather was a beautiful man, with jet black hair and dark olive skin. Along the family lines i believe that Hannah Hale was kidnapped from Rogers Fort? By indian chief and was taken to the tribe which then She had not sure how many, but children. Could you possibly help? This is what my family knows sø får. Just would love to know more. Even how much indian i have in me.

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