Niitsitapiisini: Our Way of LifeHome

 

During the Day

How we Lived with Our Families

During the Day

How We Played

Our days were spent doing chores and playing games. This was how we learned and how we prepared to be adults. The younger boys and girls played together.

Our toys were made from anything we could find. Twigs and sticks became horses and riders. Knuckle and wrist bones from buffalo were other horses. Boiled hooves and scraps of hide, stuffed with grass or animal hair, were dolls.

Using small bows and arrows gave us the skills for hunting and protecting our people.


Dolls made from fabric and hide, decorated with glass beads. Collection of Glenbow Museum; Sled made from buffalo ribs. Collection of Glenbow Museum Dolls made from fabric and hide, decorated with glass beads. Collection of Glenbow Museum

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Dolls made from fabric and hide, decorated with glass beads.
Collection of Glenbow Museum

Dolls made from fabric and hide, decorated with glass beads.
Collection of Glenbow Museum

Sled made from buffalo ribs. Collection of Glenbow Museum


Helping Our Mothers

When we were eight or nine years of age we began to have more adult responsibilities. Girls helped their mothers tan hides, dry meat and berries, and make mookimaani (pemmican).

They also began sewing clothes and learning how to decorate them with paint and kaayiis (porcupine quills). We dyed porcupine quills and wove them into intricate patterns to decorate our clothing. This was a special skill and girls had to earn the right to use these quills.

Porcupine quills, mid 20th century, Collection of Glenbow Museum; Camp of Piegan (USA), Montana, meat drying on racks, ca. 1890s, Glenbow Archives NA-1463-51 Blood woman drying meat, ca.1920s, Glenbow Archives NA-879-5

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kaayiis (porcupine quills)
Collection of Glenbow Museum

Drying meat and berries
Glenbow Archives NA-879-5

Drying meat and berries
Glenbow Archives NA-1463-51


Boys' Chores

Boys would care for the horses. This meant rounding up the herd every morning and leading them to water. The animals were watched all day and all night so that no one could sneak into our camp and steal them. The boys also hunted gophers with bows and arrows or ran races and wrestled. This was good training for the skills and endurance of a warrior.

Iksisst (aunts and uncles)

Iksisst (aunts and uncles) were responsible for disciplining those who misbehaved.


Mini’poka

Sometimes one child became a mini’pokaa (favourite child or grandchild). This individual was spared from doing chores and shielded from the problems of a normal childhood. If the family was wealthy, this mini’pokaa received elaborate gifts. Miniature tipis were made and painted with sacred designs. Some of these children became successful leaders.

Girl in front of her painted tipi, 1910, Edward S.Curtis, Glenbow Archives NA-1700-35; Woman's dress, late 19th century, Collection of Glenbow Museum Boy's Shirt, Siksika, early 20th century, Collection of Glenbow Museum

more images

Girl in front of her painted tipi.
Glenbow archives NA-1700-35

Boy's Shirt,
Siksika, early 1900s,
Collection of Glenbow Museum

Girl's Dress,
early 1900s,
Collection of Glenbow Museum


Older Children

Older children watched over younger ones, keeping them from danger.

Two Blackfoot girls, ca.1930s, T. Reiss, Glenbow Archives NA-5425-53

Glenbow Archives NA-5424-53


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