Usually, when people think of Indians, the Blackfoot Indians often come to mind. The Blackfoot Indians lived as far north as Canada and had migrated to Missouri. It is believed that the Blackfoot Indians derived their name from black ash that covered the soles of their moccasins boots. They were great warriors, skilled artists, accomplished hunters, and had a strong sense of family and social values.
The most prized resource available to the Blackfoot was the buffalo. The buffalo was the primary source of food, and the Blackfoot never wasted any part of the buffalo. They used the buffalo meat for food; the skins were made into clothing and teepees.
Though buffalo made up the primary ingredients in the diet, the Blackfoot also ate other meat, such as deer and other small game. They also grew and ate a wide variety of vegetables. Buffalo bones served as tools and the horns were often fashioned into various containers. Even the buffalo hair was used. Women were practiced at the art of weaving and would make clothing and tepees from the buffalo hair and hide. Thought the men were the hunters, the women would tan the skins and prepare them. Since it was the woman’s job to create the tepees, the women also owned them. This gave women a valuable and important role in Blackfoot society.
The Blackfoot had a strong sense of tribal community as well as leadership. Each tribe was divided into a hunting band and was led by a council or a chief. This political structure led the tribe and provided structure within the community. However, members of the tribe were free to leave the council if they decided to. It seems that the Blackfoot lived in a true sense of early democracy that was quite different from other tribes, such as the Apaches.
Joseph Paige © 2006