Niitsitapiisini: Our Way of LifeHome


Our World

In order to understand us you need to understand the world around us.

Ihtsipaitapiyopa is the name we give to the Essence of All Life. This is Creator, the Source of All Life. Ihtsipaitapiyopa made all living things equal. Human beings were not given the right to rule over or exploit the rest of nature. We recognize plants, animals, and rocks as other living beings who are different from us but also our equals.

Each plant or animal has unique gifts and abilities that they share with humans. Some plants can cure our diseases, others give us important nutrients. Buffalo are strong animals that once provided much of what we needed for survival. Birds are swift flyers who helped warriors to be stealthy and quick.

These animals visited us in human form and taught us how to call on them for their special gifts. This is how we became so closely connected to the beings with whom we share the earth.

We use the word Niitsitapi to refer to ourselves and all other First Nations people. This means “Real People.”

Iinii (buffalo) are strong, fearless animals who knew how to survive on the plains.

Makoyi (the wolves) taught us that animals with hooves and horns would provide us with food. Elk also gave us their hides to made clothing.

Aimmoniisi (otter), Ksisststaki (beavers) and other water beings have special powers they sometimes share with human beings.

Naato'si (the Sun) gives us our life on earth. He is a very important Above Person.

Ksiistsikomm (Thunder) is one of the most powerful beings. He also brings us the summer rains that we need for good grazing.

Who We Are

We are commonly called Blackfoot, but we have various names for ourselves. We recognize three large groups of clans: the Kainai (Many Leaders, also called the Blood); the Piikani (including the Amsskaapipiikani in Montana and Apatohsipiikani in southern Alberta ); and the Siksika (Blackfoot, also called northern Blackfoot). We share a common language and culture.

In the past we were not united in an alliance. However because the three divisions often supported one another, many people referred to us as the Blackfoot Confederacy.

Our Language

Our language is important to us. It helps us understand our relationship with the rest of Creation and reinforces our values and beliefs.

Siksika, Kainai, Amsskaapipiikani, and Apatohsipiikani all speak the Blackfoot language. Over time each has developed slight variations of speaking our language. Sometimes this means using different words for the same item. Other times the pronunciation of the same word is different. Still we are able to understand each other.

We almost lost our language when the government forced our children to go to residential schools. Today we are teaching our children Blackfoot in our schools. We are trying to make our language strong again.

The Blackfoot language in this website uses the Kainai version for many of the words and concepts. We hope this will help preserve Blackfoot and encourage others to learn the language.

Our Traditional Territory

Our traditional territory spread eastward from the Rocky Mountains across the northwestern plains.

Our Traditional Territory

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Our Traditional Territory

The Milk River

The broken badlands of the Milk River valley are a special place where our people recorded their history in pictures carved into stone. Other images were placed there by the Other Beings to remind us of our traditions.

Sweet Pine Hills and the Milk River

Sweet Pine Hills and the Milk River

Tipi Liner

The Tipi Liner The Rocky Mountains mark the western boundary of our territory. The Tipi Liner (also called the Livingstone Range ) rises above the prairies as a solid wall, appearing like the liners inside a tipi.

The Tipi Liner

The Tipi Liner

Ninastako (Chief Mountain)

Ninastako is the home of Ksiistsikomm (Thunder). This is where raven fought with Thunder and where Thunder gave his pipe to our people.

Ninastako (Chief Mountain)

Ninastako (Chief Mountain)
Ksiistsikomm (Thunder)

Crow's Nest Mountain

This is where Omahkai'stoo (Raven) lives. After his fight with Thunder, they agreed to divide the year into two parts. The summer is Thunder's season and the winter is Raven's time.

Crow's Nest Mountain

Crow's Nest Mountain

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