Boiled, roasted or dried buffalo meat was the primary food source of the Blackfoot Native American tribes.They stored dried meat in rawhide pouches and made it into pemmican by combining it with service berries and marrow grease. The tribes depended on the mixture for survival throughout the long winters of the northern plains.
Hunting parties of the Blackfoot tribe also ate large game, such as deer, antelope, elk, moose and mountain sheep. They never ate fish, reptiles or other aquatic creatures because they believed that mystical beings, known as Suyitapis, inhabited rivers and lakes. In the early summer, the females of the tribe gathered roots, prairie turnips, bitteroot and camas bulbs to supplement the tribe's diet. They added service berries, choke berries, buffalo berries and cottonwood tree bark to the menu in the fall.
The lifestyle and culture of the nomadic Blackfoot tribe was almost completely dependent on buffalo herds. Groups of 20 to 30 families followed the buffalo migration and used the hides, bones and sinew to make shelters, as well as domestic and military equipment. When white hunters depleted the plains buffalo population to near extinction in the late 1800s, thousands of members of the Blackfoot tribe died from starvation.