Cover image for The story of the Blackfoot people
The story of the Blackfoot people
Glenbow Museum. Blackfoot Gallery Committee.
Publication Information:
Buffalo, N.Y. : Firefly Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
88 pages : illustrations (some color), maps, portraits ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E99.K15 S76 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



For the first time in history, the Blackfoot people share their culture, beliefs and traditions with the rest of the world.

In an innovative partnership with Calgary's Glenbow Museum, a team of elders and spiritual leaders from the Blackfoot community agreed to share their history, traditions and artifacts in an effort to document their lives. The Story of the Blackfoot People: Nitsitapiisinni is the first piece of permanent documentation written by the leaders of the Blackfoot community about their lives both past and present.

The Story of the Blackfoot People: Nitsitapiisinni chronicles all the important aspects of Blackfoot life and history. The book begins by exploring the fundamental belief systems of the Blackfoot including their traditional stories, sacred places, dances and ceremonies. Strong relationships are recognized by the Blackfoot as one of the most important keys to survival and the roles of men, women, children and elders, and their sacred connection to nature and their environment, are examined in detail. Less harmonious relationships are also candidly explored including relations between the Blackfoot people and the governments of the United States and Canada. In its moving conclusion, the Blackfoot committee discusses the importance of uniting ancient traditions with modern challenges in order for their legacy to survive.

Revealing the enduring strength and fortitude of spirit of the Blackfoot people, this book will have meaning for both native and non-native alike.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 7-up. Working with the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta, Blackfoot community members agreed to help develop an exhibition about their way of life. Elders and spiritual leaders shared their history, traditions, beliefs, and artifacts to document their lives in the exhibit and for this book. The accessible text includes insight into the Blackfoot's spiritual attitude toward land, the structure of their society, relationships with both the Canadian and the U.S. governments, and the devastating effects of the boarding schools. Numerous photos show Blackfoot leaders, sacred places, clothing, and contemporary dances. Drawing on the knowledge and perspective of tribal elders and spiritual leaders, this excellent volume provides readers with a context for understanding and appreciating Blackfoot culture. It's also a wonderful model for books about First Nations peoples. A glossary of Blackfoot terms is appended. --Karen Hutt

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6 Up-In partnership with the Glenbow Museum in Alberta, Canada, leaders from the Blackfoot community produced a compilation of their history and artifacts for this book. It documents the origins of Blackfoot beliefs and spirituality and pays specific attention to the struggle against assimilation that the people engaged in with the American and Canadian governments. This text relies heavily on both primary sources and oral tradition and is written in narrative form. There are some lovely photographs and a glossary of Blackfoot terms but, on the whole, the volume struggles to spark readers' interest. The writing is dry and monotonous and the authors constantly remind readers of the negative impact the Europeans have had on their culture. Clearly, the indigenous North Americans have suffered since the arrivals of the Europeans but this book's sole agenda appears to be the illustration of the wonderfully spiritual native virtues versus the oppressively evil deeds of "nonnatives." There are many other better organized and more interestingly written works available for the study of native history.-Robyn Ryan Vandenbroek, Elgin Court Public School, St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Excerpted from Chapter 1 Nitsitapiisinni: Our Way of Life Oki . Hello. We are the Blackfoot people and this is our story. It is the story of how our traditions and values were given to us by Creator and other Spirit Beings. It is the story of our place in the universe and our relationship with all of Creation. We have learned this story through our traditional teachings, which we wish to share with you. Our story is also about our struggle to maintain our values, principles and beliefs in the face of relentless change. For centuries we were a strong, independent people. Then whiskey and disease began to destroy us. The buffalo, the mainstay of our existence, disappeared from the land. The governments of Canada and the United States promised help. In return they forced us to live on reserves, to give up our ancient beliefs and to stop speaking our language. The governments thought we would either die off or be assimilated. We have survived. Much has changed in our culture, and many young people have difficulty learning our language. But the core values of our culture are still important to us. Our ceremonies continue to affirm our connection with all of the natural world. We hope you will learn from this story and understand who we are. It is only through such understanding that all of us will be able to live together in this land. Excerpted from The Story of the Blackfoot People: Nitsitapiisinni by Blackfoot Gallery Committee All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Nitsitapiisinni: Our Way of Life
The Blackfoot World How We Lived Together
Nitawah-sinanni: The Land Our Relationships with Other People
End of the Buffalo Days We are meant to be Ni-tsi-ta-pi-ksi
Glossary of Blackfoot Terms