The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Blackfeet Indians

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BLACKFEET INDIANS, an important Algonquin confederacy of the northern plains, inhabiting, until within recent historical times, the territory from the headstreams of the Missouri in Montana to North Saskatchewan, now in the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta, and from long. 105° to the base of the Rocky Mountains. They are now settled on reserves, three in Alberta and one in northwest Montana. The origin of the name is disputed, but it is believed to have reference to the discoloration of their moccasins by the prairie fires. They consist of three subtribes, the Siksika proper or Blackfeet, the Kainah or Bloods and the Piegan — the whole being known as Bloods, and in close alliance with the Atsina and Sarsi. They were roving buffalo hunters, warlike, without permanent habitations, having no arts and no agriculture, except the growing of some tobacco. They have a great number of secret societies and many tribal dances; their dead were deposited in trees or laid on tepis erected on prominent hills. Mackenzie estimated their numbers in 1790 at 9,000; they have been repeatedly decimated by smallpox; the sudden extinction of the buffalo in 1879 threatened disastrous results for them, but was met by prompt State action. Numbers (1911) 2,337 in Alberta, 2,195 in Montana.