What Were the Blackfoot Indians’ Houses Like?

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The Blackfoot Indians, a confederacy of four Native American bands in southern Canada and Montana, lived in houses called tepees made of log poles and buffalo skins. These were easy to collapse, transport and reassemble, as the Blackfoot Indians were nomadic.

The thickness of the buffalo skins protected the inhabitants of the tepees against strong winds, the extreme cold of winter and the heat of the summer. The buffalo was an integral part of Blackfoot Indian existence, and every other part of the animal was utilized as well. The meat was roasted and also dried for jerky. Skins were sewn into clothing and moccasins. Tendons became thread. Bones were fashioned into tools, sewing needles and utensils. Stomachs were cleaned and used for storage of liquids. Even buffalo dung was dried out and used as fuel.

Until the Blackfoot Indians acquired horses, they used dogs to pull their belongings, including their collapsed tepees, on A-shaped wooden platforms called travois. The horse, introduced to them by other Indian tribes, gave them much greater versatility in transportation and hunting. In fact, horses became so important that a person’s wealth came to be measured in horses. At their height, the Blackfoot Indians inhabited a large territory east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. They long held this area against Europeans settlers and other Native American tribes. In the late 19th century, when buffalo almost became extinct, they were forced to take up farming and ranching.