Blackfoot Confederacy

The Blackfoot Confederacy.
The Blackfoot Confederacy, up until about midway through the 1800s, controlled a vast area in the northeastern Plains. This area reached from the North Saskatchewan River in present-day Alberta, extending all the way to the upper Missouri River in Montana. The Blackfoot holdings were flanked on the western side by the Rocky Mountains. The tribes of the Blackfoot Confederacy, Siksika, Piikani (Peigan) and Kainaiwa (Blood).


We have three main clans:
The Kainai (Many Leaders, also called the Blood);
The Piikani ( including the Amsskaapipiikani in Montana and Apatohsipiikani in southern Alberta also called the Peigan );
The Siksika (Blackfoot, also called northern Blackfoot). We share a common language and culture. The Siksika are a unique First Nation unto themselves, with a cultural identity that is distinct from either the Kainai or the Piikani clans.


The societies of the Siksika were referred to by the traditional name, ‘Ih ka na kaa tsiks’, meaning ‘All Comrades’. The ceremonies of the societies were secondary to the sun dance. The All Comrades were the regulators of the buffalo hunts and served as guardians of the camp. The societies of the Siksika were referred to by these names; Horns, Kit Foxes, Catchers, Brave Dogs, Raven Carriers, Braves, and Prairie Chickens. Members of the warrior societies could be seen preparing sweats on the outskirts of camp. The sound of children’s laughter and the barking of camp dogs could be heard as the evening sun began to set. Soon the sound of camp criers brought a moment of calmness as the people hushed the little ones and listened for the evening’s events. With wood smoke rising from tipis the camp settled for the night, and the night singers sang their lullabies. This would be the last Siksika Sundance for the next thirty years. In the 1980s the Siksika Culture Department began an Elder’s event called “Elder’s Spiritual Week”. Several tipis were pitched and the remnants of the societies came together to acknowledge the old ways through prayer and song. This lasted 16 years before two individuals sought to revive the societies and bring back the protective influence of the sacred bundles. In 1996 with the assistance of the Museum Community and the Province of Alberta, the Siksika retrieved the bundles of the societies. For thirty years the bundles had rested in storage rooms somewhere far from home. The bundles returned and were ritually transferred to new members, and the Siksika Sun Dance once again brought together societies and families to thank Creator for bringing them through another winter. The Siksika societies of 2007 are: Motokiks, Horns, Brave Dogs, Prairie Chickens, Bumble Bees, Thunder Pipe Carriers, and Beaver Men.

Leaders & Chiefs

Blackfoot Leaders were chosen by their ability to provide for a group of families under his leadership. A successful leader will provide food for his group and lead them to sheltered areas for camping and hunting.

Chief Crowfoot "Isapo-muxika"

One of the greatest chiefs in the history of the Blackfoot Confederacy was Crowfoot, when many of the old timers of Southern Alberta knew personally from the time the ranchers began to settle in the province, till the time of his death in April 1890. Crowfoot was born near Blackfoot Crossing. He was the son of a Blackfoot chief called “Many Names” and a Blood woman. From earliest years he distinguished himself as a youth of sound judgment and great courage. As a boy, he was given the name of “Bear Ghost”. When he was fifteen years of age his name was changed because he revenged the treacherous killing of his older brother by leading an expedition into Montana and thoroughly defeating the Snake Indians. Most of the paintings and photographs of Crowfoot show him as a quiet and old man. They also show striking physical characteristics. He was six feet tall and well proportioned. He also has the dignity and self-possession of a born leader. While still a young man, he succeeded his father as head of the Confederacy, and for thirty years he was the leader in all matters relating to the welfare of his people. It is said that he gained an undisputed place as leader of his tribe during a terrific battle between the Crees and the Blackfeet on December 3, 1866. This took place at Three Ponds, a valley between the Battle and the Red Deer Rivers. The Blackfeet, having been thoroughly beaten, were about to retreat with great loss of life. When suddenly Crowfoot appeared and rallied the discouraged warriors. The Blackfeet dashed into the fight and drove the Crees back into their own country with complete confusion. A few years later a combined force of Crees and Assiniboine were almost completely destroyed by Crowfoot and his warriors in a desperate battle near Lethbridge. Stories of these engagements are still told today by the old people.

Chief Old Sun- Naato’saapi

Old Sun was already a spiritual leader and renowned warrior when he succeeded his father as Head Chief of one of the largest bands in the Blackfoot Confederacy. Highly esteemed as a leader, his successes and victories in battles and horse raids established his reputation as an able War Chief. Old Sun was the Head Chief of the North Siksika at the same time Crowfoot was Head Chief of the South Siksika. His role at Treaty #7 largely ignored by historians, Old Sun together with Crowfoot, led the Siksika tribes to Blackfoot Crossing to council with Confederacy Chiefs over the Crown’s proposed treaty. Originally opposed to making treaty with the Crown, Old Sun who wielded greater authority in tribal decisions, deferred his decision to Crowfoot because he trusted the younger man. Old Sun’s decision consolidated the Siksika bands. With all the Siksika bands united, Crowfoot met with Confederacy Chiefs and their decision to make treaty with the Crown became history. In September of 1877, the Blackfoot Confederacy Chiefs led by Chief Crowfoot signed Treaty #7. In 1883, Chief Old Sun granted permission to Anglican Reverend J.W.Tims to build a cabin which became the first Anglican Mission in the Siksika reserve.



Bio coming soon.


Bio coming soon.