What Are Some Facts About the Blackfoot Indians?

The Blackfoot traditionally lived as hunter-gatherers in the northern Great Plains of North America, depending largely on buffalo for sustenance. White settlement and American governmental pressure forced the Blackfoot into increasingly smaller territories during the 19th century. Most modern Blackfoot live as ranchers on reservations in Montana and Alberta.

The Blackfoot traditionally used the buffalo for many necessities of life including food, clothing, shelter and tools. The Blackfoot used a variety of methods to hunt buffalo, such as cliff drives. However, after the introduction of horses, they preferred direct attacks on horseback, which also proved their courage and skill to each other. The Blackfoot lived in tipis made of wooden pools covered with buffalo skins, which they often decorated with animal pictures and geometric designs. The tipi's design allowed for quick transportation.

The Blackfoot first encountered Europeans when fur traders appeared in the late 18th century. Fur trading introduced the Blackfoot to European tools and weapons along with European diseases, such as small pox. The Blackfoot were a respected and aggressive military force during this period. However, increasing pressure from American settlement and the depletion of buffalo herds eventually forced the Blackfoot into permanent reservations during the second half of the 19th century.

There are four Blackfoot reservations, as of 2015, one in Montana and three in Alberta. Beyond ranching, modern Blackfoot also work in the oil and gas exploration industry.