The Blackfeet
Traditional Culture
  Since Time Immemorial
Homeland of the Blackfeet
All My Relations
Camp Life and Seasonal Round
Buffalo Hunt
Further Reading
References Cited

  Contemporary Culture
  Arts and Artists
Tribal Government
Tribal Colleges
Recommended Web Sites

  Relationship with U.S.
  Before the Long Knives
The Long Knives
Making Treaties
The Shrinking Reservation
References Cited

Milk River
Milk River near junction of Missouri,
Lithograph from John Mix Stanley original, ca. 1855. (Stevens:1861)
Courtesy of The University of Montana, Mike and
Maureen Mansfield Library, Government Documents.
View looking south to the Sweetgrass Hills, from Writing-On-Stone. Milk River in foreground.
Alice Cornell photo.

A view of Chief Mountain,
from the Alberta plains near Standoff. K. Lugthart photo

Great Falls > Culture > Homeland of the Blackfeet
How the World was Created

In the Nitsitapi creation story, Na'pi, or Old Man, in service to the Creator, marks off the ground that would be their home.

From peaks to plains, a view from Waterton Park
S. Thompson photo
Blackfeet Creation Story, and the First Buffalo
A version prepared by Jim Kipp

"In the begining all the world was water. One day Old Man, either by design or because he was just curious, decided to find out what might lie beneath the water. He sent animals to dive below the surface... At last muskrat rose slowly to the surface, holding between his paws a little ball of mud. Old Man took this small lump of mud and blew upon it. The mud began to swell. It continued to grow larger until it became the whole earth.

"Then Napi traveled about the earth piling up rocks to make mountains, gouging out beds of rivers and lakes and filling them with water. He covered the plains with grass...He made the animals and the birds. And then, from a lump of clay, he made himself a wife.

"Together Old Man and Old Woman designed the people and determined how they should live....

"The boundaries of this land are given as running east from a point in the summit of the Rocky Mountains west of Fort Edmonton, taking in the country to the east and south, including the Porcupine Hills, Cypress Mountains, and Little Rocky Mountains, down to the mouth of the Yellowstone on the Missouri ; then west to the head of the Yellowstone, and across the Rocky Mountains to the Beaverhead ; thence to the summit of the Rocky Mountains and north along them to the starting-point.

"When Napi got to the north point of the Porcupine Mountains, his people asked him what they were to eat? Napi made many images in the form of buffalo. Then he blew breath on these, and they stood up ; and when he made signs to them, they started to run. Then he said to his people, 'those are your food'. They said to him ," how are we to kill them?" " I will show you," he said. He took them to the cliff, and told the people to run the buffalo over it, and take the flesh to eat. They tried to tear the limbs apart and take bites of the flesh, but they could not. So Old Man went to the edge of the cliff, and broke some pieces of stone with sharp edges, and told them to cut the flesh with these. When then they had taken the skins from these animals, they set up poles and put the hides on them, and so made a shelter to sleep under. Their legs broken, but they were still alive. The people cut strips of green hide, and tied stones in the middle, and made large mauls, and broke in the skulls of the buffalo, and killed them."

Percy Bullchild Map

Percy Bullchild’s map illustrates Blackfeet aboriginal hunting area. Napi stories told in his book, The Sun Came Down, are included on this map with a key for the numbered places.
From The Sun Came Down
Percy Bullchild, 1985

Blackfeet Homeland Map

Blackfeet Confederacy Territory
©Apiisoomahka Wm. Singer III, 1993
Used with permission from Red Crow College

Red Crow Community College commissioned the artist to create this map, which represents the territory of the Blackfoot Confederacy, in native language as well as English.

Use the navigation tools to scroll around the map and explore up close.

Background: Map©Apiisoomahka Wm. Singer III, 1993
Used with permission from Red Crow College