Leaders & Cheifs

Blackfoot Leaders

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"

Chief CrowfootOne 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

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.





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