Piegan Blackfeet

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This page is about the Piegan. For the other Blackfoot tribes, see Blackfoot Confederacy. For the similarly translated former Franco-Algerian population, see Pieds-noir.
The three chiefs Piegan, by Edward S. Curtis

The Piegan (Blackfoot: Piikáni) are an Algonquian people from the North American Great Plains. They were the largest of three Blackfoot-speaking groups that made up the Blackfoot Confederacy with the Siksika and the Kainai, and dominated much of the northern plains during the nineteenth century. After their homeland was divided between Canada and the United States of America, the Peigan people were forced to sign treaties with one of those two countries, settle on one side or the other of the border, and be enrolled in one of two government-like bodies sanctioned by North American nation-states. These two successor groups are the Blackfeet Nation a "federally-recognized tribe" in Montana, USA and the Piikani Nation an "Indian band" in Alberta, Canada.

Today most Piegans live on the Blackfeet Reservation in northwestern Montana, with the population centered in Browning. There were 32,234 Blackfeet counted by the 1990 US census.[1]

Terminology[edit]

The Piegan (also Pikuni, Pikani, and Piikáni) are one of the three original tribes of the Blackfoot Confederacy ( a "tribe" here refers to an ethnic or cultural group with a shared name and identity). The Peigan are closely related to the Kainai Nation (formerly called the "Blood Tribe"), and the Siksika Nation (also called the "Blackfoot Nation"), together they are sometimes collectively referred to as "the Blackfoot" or "the Blackfoot Confederacy". Ethnographic literature most commonly uses "Blackfoot people", and Canadian Blackfoot people use the singular Blackfoot. The US and tribal governments officially use "Blackfeet", as in Blackfeet Indian Reservation and Blackfeet Nation, as seen on official tribe website. The term Siksika, derived from Siksikáíkoan (a Blackfoot person), may also be used in self-identification. In English, an individual may say, "I am Blackfoot" or "I am a member of the Blackfeet tribe."[2]

Traditionally, Plains peoples were divided in to "bands": groups of families who migrated together for hunting and defence. The bands of the Piegan, as given by Grinnell, are : Ahahpitape, Ahkaiyikokakiniks, Kiyis, Sikutsipmaiks, Sikopoksimaiks, Tsiniksistsoyiks, Kutaiimiks, Ipoksimaiks, Silkokitsimiks, Nitawyiks, Apikaiviks, Miahwahpitsiks, Nitakoskitsipupiks, Nitikskiks, Inuksiks, Miawkinaiyiks, Esksinaitupiks, Inuksikahkopwaiks, Kahmitaiks, Kutaisotsiman, Nitotsiksisstaniks, Motwainaiks, Mokumiks, and Motahtosiks. Hayden gives also Susksoyiks.[3]

Since the 1870s, Piegan people have been members of either the Blackfeet Nation in the US or the Piikani Nation (Northern Peigan) in Canada. They are closely related to the Kainai Nation (also known as the Blood), and the Siksika Nation. All speak dialects of the Blackfoot language and are sometimes collectively referred to as the Blackfoot or the Blackfoot Confederacy. Ethnographic literature most commonly uses "Blackfoot people", and Canadian Blackfoot people use the singular Blackfoot. The US and tribal governments officially use "Blackfeet", as in Blackfeet Indian Reservation and Blackfeet Nation.[2]

Relations and history[edit]

Jackie Larson Bread (enrolled Blackfeet Tribe of Montana) with her award-winning beadwork
Black Bear (enrolled Blackfeet Tribe of Montana), ceramic artist, educator, and youth advocate

Sequencing the DNA of a 12,500+-year-old infant skeleton in west-central Montana,[4] found in close association with several Clovis culture artifacts, showed strong affinities with all existing Native American populations.[5]

There is preliminary evidence of human habitation in north central Montana, which became part of the Piegan territory, that may date as far back as 5000 years,[6] with evidence of substantial use of buffalo jumps dating to AD 300.[7] The Piegan people themselves may be more recent arrivals, with strong evidence that their Algonquian-speaking ancestors migrated southwest from what today is Saskatchewan beginning about 1730.[8]

The linguistic connection of the Blackfoot language to others in the Algonquian-language family indicate that the Blackfoot had long lived in an area west of the Great Lakes[citation needed]. The Blackfoot language is also agglutinative. Though they practiced some agriculture, they were partly nomadic. They moved westward partially because of the introduction of horses and guns, and became a part of the Plains Indians culture in the early 19th century. However, tribal stories teach that humans lived were near the Rocky Mountain front for thousands of years before European contact.[9][10] The Blackfoot creation story takes place directly below Glacier National Park in area now known as the "Badger-Two Medicine".

The introduction of the horse is placed at about 1730 when raids by the Shoshoni prompted the Piegan to obtain horses from the Kutenai, Salish and Nez Perce.[11] Early accounts of contact with European-descended people date to the late eighteenth century. The fur trader James Gaddy and the Hudson's Bay Company explorer David Thompson, the first Whites to see Bow River, camped with a group of Peigan during the 1787-1788 winter, .[12]

In 1900, there were an estimated 20,000 Blackfoot, while today there are approximately 25,000. The population was at times dramatically lower when the Blackfeet people suffered infectious disease epidemics, due to no natural immunity to Eurasian diseases, such as the smallpox epidemic of 1837, which killed 6,000. They also suffered from starvation and war. When the last buffalo hunt failed, 1882 became known as the starvation year. They had controlled large portions of Alberta and Montana. Today the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana is the size of Delaware, and the three Blackfoot reserves in Alberta have a much smaller area.[2]

The Blackfeet hold belief "in a sacred force that permeates all things, represented symbolically by the sun whose light sustains all things."[1]

The Blackfoot do not have well documented male Two-Spirits, but they do have "manly-hearted women".[13] These were recorded as acting much of the social roles of men. This includes a willingness to sing alone, usually considered "immodest", and using a men's singing style.[14]

In 1858 the Piegan in the United States were estimated to number 3,700. Hayden three years later estimated the population at 2,520. In 1906 there were 2,072 under the Blackfeet agency in Montana, and 493 under the Piegan band in Alberta, Canada.

For histories after the 1870s see the 'Blackfeet Nation' in the US or the 'Piikani Nation' in Canada.

Authors[edit]

Blackfeet authors[edit]

  • James Welch (1940–2003), was an award-winning U.S. author and poet. While most of his published works were novels, he also wrote the non-fiction historical account, Killing Custer: The Battle of Little Bighorn and the Fate of the Plains Indians. He was one of the participants in the PBS American Experience documentary, Last Stand at Little Bighorn. His award-winning novel Fools Crow is also based on the Blackfeet tribe.

Other authors who wrote about the Blackfeet[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Blackfeet Religion: Doctrines", University of Cumbria: Overview of World Religions. (retrieved 6 June 2009)
  2. ^ a b c Nettl, Bruno (1989). Blackfoot Musical Thought: Comparative Perspectives. Ohio: The Kent State University Press. ISBN 0-87338-370-2.
  3. ^ The Indian Tribes of North America, p 396
  4. ^ Rasmussen M, Anzick SL, et al. (2014). "The genome of a Late Pleistocene human from a Clovis burial site in western Montana". Nature 506: 225–229. doi:10.1038/nature13025. 
  5. ^ "Ancient American's genome mapped". BBC News. 2014-02-14. 
  6. ^ "Buffalo Jump Expansion Unearths Gems." Great Falls Tribune. March 27, 2011. Accessed 2011-05-12.
  7. ^ Ulm Pishkun State Park Management Plan: Final. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. December 2005, p. 2.
  8. ^ "Montana Indians" Their History and Location". Montana Office of Public Instruction. 
  9. ^ name="American Anthropologist April 1892 p. 153"
  10. ^ Grinnell, George Bird George Bird Grinnell Blackfoot Lodge Tales "Blackfoot Lodge Tales, (BiblioBazaar, 2006) ISBN 978-1-4264-4744-0" .
  11. ^ http://www.bigorrin.org/archmn-blackfoot.htm
  12. ^ Armtsrong, Christopher; Evenden, Matthew; Nelles, H. V. (2009). The River Returns: An Environmental History of the Bow. Montreal: McGill UP. p. 3. 
  13. ^ Lewis, 1941
  14. ^ Nettl, 1989, p.84, 125
  15. ^ "Bestiary"
  16. ^ "George Bird Grinnell", Minnesota State University, Mankato, (retrieved 6 June 2009)
  17. ^ Hanna, Warren L. (1988). "James Willard Schultz-The Pikuni Storyteller". Stars over Montana-Men Who Made Glacier National Park History. West Glacier, MT: Glacier Natural History Association. pp. 95–111. ISBN 9780091679064. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Dempsey, Hugh A. and Lindsay Moir. Bibliography of the Blackfoot, (Native American Bibliography Series, No. 13) Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, 1989, ISBN 0-8108-2211-3
  • Ewers, John C. The Blackfeet: Raiders on the Northwestern Plains, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1958 (and later reprints). ISBN 0-8061-0405-8
  • Johnson, Bryan R. The Blackfeet: An Annotated Bibliography, New York: Garland Publishing, 1988. ISBN 0-8240-0941-X

External links[edit]