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
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 Blackfeet children with teacher Shirley Crow Shoe at Nizipuhwahsin school.
Browning, MT.

Great Falls > Culture > Language
Nizipuhwahsin School

Piegan Institute and Language School
The Mission of the Piegan Institute, founded in 1987, is to serve as a vehicle to research, promote, and preserve native languages. The Nizipuhwahsin (original language) Center of the Piegan Institute is located on the Blackfeet Reservation in northern Montana and teaches the native Blackfeet language. Their objective is to generate highly skilled speakers who are educated in both Blackfeet and world academia. While the programs teach the language, they include social, intellectual, and academic lessons. They focus on connecting the various contexts of the students' experiences.

The decline in usage of native languages resulted from forced attendance at English-speaking schools where speaking native languages was forbidden. Because most adults experienced this type of education, less than 3% of Blackfeet are fluent in their own language, and most of these people are elderly. The Piegan Institute wants to increase the number of Blackfeet speakers, especially children, and to assist with positive community development. As a native language school, the Institute supports native languages of all tribes through education and hopes to provide a voice to the national and international restoration of native languages.

The Nizipuhwahsin Center is a school that operates on contributions from nixokowa, friends and relatives, only. It receives no operating funds from federal, state, or tribal governments. In addition to individual support, it has a few private foundations that have invested in saving the Blackfeet language.
At the school, children learn from elders and state certified teachers who speak the Blackfeet language together. They have 40 students enrolled from ages 5 to 12 in the multi-age classrooms. The multi-generational approach involves the children, their parents, and grandparents in the learning process.

Blackfeet Community College - Blackfeet Language Studies Department
Students can study the Blackfeet language at an elementary conversational level or they may engage in a more intensive study. Beginning students focus on a different topic each week including such themes as greeting others, distinguishing kinship, identifying community geographic sites, and pronouncing names of legend figures and Blackfeet spirit entities. Instructors use role play situations, photographs and other illustrations to assist the immersion learning experience.

For the more intensive beginning course, students are immersed in the culture of the Blackfeet. Prayer and words used in and around ceremonial gatherings are taught, word origins are taught, and Blackfeet philosophy is stressed throughout the course by emphasizing the choice of words. Elders play an important part of the classroom presentations.
Intermediate Blackfeet language classes present conversational topics that are both relevant and usable in daily interactions with the average Blackfeet speaker.

Topics include temperature and weather systems, plant life, methods of describing feelings and the various community activities prevalent in the Blackfeet community. Blackfeet language lessons are also available in video or audio and written materials.

Blackfoot Language
This site gives a brief description of the language, people and history of the five affiliated Blackfoot tribes, including Siksika, Peigan, Pikanii, Kainai, and Blackfeet. It includes a vast resource of Blackfoot language links as well.

Background: Blackfoot designs courtesy the
Canada Museum of Civilization Corporation