Life in Traditional Territory

Traditional Blackfoot Territory Map Life in traditional territory before the signing of Treaty 7 is presented in this area. 

Siksika was one of four tribes of the Blackfoot Confederacy which roamed the prairies from the North Saskatchewan River to the Yellowstone River and from the Rocky Mountains to mid-Saskatchewan. 

This section explores the relationships of Blackfoot people and the first Europeans – explorers, missionaries and traders and the impact they had on the lives of Siksika.

Each area of this map represents a part of history from the 1700's to 1850's.

These recorded events are reflective of how we interactive.

Roll over the map and click the area to learn more.




  1. 1754- the Hudson’s Bay Company sent Anthony Henday and some Indian helpers to make contact with our people. When they did, it was somewhere in the area of present-day Battleford, Saskatchewan. They called us “Architenue”, which probably means “the strangers or the enemy”.
  2. 1800- Peter Fidler asked Siksika headman, Old Swan, to draw him a map showing the route they had taken in a recent expedition to expel the Snake Indians from their territory. This map, now known as the Ac Ko Mok Ki map, was the first available map of our territory. They had ridden all the way from Chesterfield House, at the junction of the South Saskatchewan and Red Deer rivers, south through the Cypress Hills, down into Yellowstone country, up the Missouri and Marias rivers to the Mountains, north along the foothills to Rocky Mountain House and back again to their starting point… in effect, all of southern Alberta and Montana! Back to Map
  3. 1806- The President of the U. S. eventually found out about the Ac Ko Mok Ki map and requested a copy for Lewis and Clark to help them find a river passage through the prairies and through the mountains to the ocean. Unfortunately, they encountered a group of Blackfoot who turned them back, along the Marias river. They managed to escape, but then were forced to seek another route farther south. Back to Map
  4. 1807- Canada was in the race to the Pacific before the Americans to fulfil its own dream of greatness, but its explorers did not dare go through Blackfoot territory. David Thompson tried to go around it by following the northern rivers. Even so, he met some Peigan's near the mountains. Happily, he found them quite amenable, made friends with them and thus made good headway down a river which is now the Columbia. Unfortunately for him, he betrayed their friendship by selling guns to an enemy tribe. For that, the Peigans retaliated and prevented him from going further. He was thus forced to seek another route farther north, wasted two years in doing so… and lost the race to Oregon country and to the Pacific. The Americans got there first and claimed the land as their own. Back to Map
  5. 1833- Count von Maximillian and Karl Bodmer witnessed an attack by Cree and Assiniboines upon a Blackfoot camp near Fort McKenzie. The Blackfoot repelled them successfully. Back to Map
  6. 1840-47- Father De Smet reported that “the deadly and murderous Blackfeet were the greatest impediment to the spread of the Gospel in Yellowstone country…” Father Nicolas Point later made friends with them and went on a fall hunt with them. His impression was that most of the Blackfoot attacks were in retaliation for what had been done to them. Back to Map
  7. 1842- In Canada, Father Thibault meets Blackfoot people at Lake St. Ann. Father Lacombe begs bishop to let him join the Blackfoot people; he is later wounded during an encounter with the Cree but was saved by Crowfoot’s band.
    Back to Map
  8. 1848- Paul Kane, an artist, who was part of a river expedition along the North Saskatchewan, reported that a group of riders were furiously gaining on them. This group was a large contingent of Blackfoot endeavoring to attack a Cree group who had crossed to the south side of the river. There is some debate as to whether Big Snake actually died on this occasion. The Cree maintain that he did, the Blackfoot believe he didn’t! Back to Map
  9. In the years following 1848, several waves of smallpox and measles epidemics broke out which wreaked havoc and brought death into our Blackfoot communities. These are sicknesses against which our people had developed no immunity…the results were devastating. Our people died by the thousands. Back to Map
  10. We call the resting place of our ancestors the Great Sand Hills. Those who died from the epidemics, those who died in battle……all our ancestors, are resting in the Great Sand Hills. We know that the Great Sand Hills are a legendary name given by our ancestors referring to the Great Beyond, but these hills could be the physical link to the legendary name. Regardless, wherever it is, we also know that the Creator is taking good care of them. We will see them again. Back to Map




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