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Whisky Traders

How we Lived with Other People

Whisky Traders

Whisky Traders

As more Naapiikoan (white people) came into our territory changes happened that we could not control. These newcomers did not want furs, mookimanni, (pemmican) or dry meat. They wanted buffalo robes. These were sent to Fort Benton, Montana, where they were loaded onto steamboats and shipped to the eastern United States. The thick hides were made into robes for sleighs and coats.

Naapiaohkii (whisky) was the most important item these Americans traded. The effects were disastrous for us. We began fighting amongst ourselves and treating each other without respect.

Whisky Traders Whisky Traders

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Courtesy of Glenbow Museum


Deaths from Alcohol

The whisky the traders brought us was a rotgut mixture of alcohol, pepper, gunpowder, and other toxins. As a result many of our people died from poisoning.


From Bull Plume's Winter Count - Deaths from Alcohol, Collection of Glenbow Museum

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From Bull Plume's Winter Count
Collection of Glenbow Museum


Our Last Pisskan

The last Pisskan (buffalo jump) was used about 1868. By this time we had horses and rifles and preferred to chase the buffalo.

Winter Count
1868 – When we last made corrals for buffalo.

Winter Count 1868 - When we last made corrals for buffalo.  From Bull Plume's Winter Count, Collection of Glenbow Museum

From Bull Plume's Winter Count
Collection of Glenbow Museum


The Last Battle

The last battle between the Cree and our people took place near present-day Lethbridge in 1870. The Cree thought we were weak from smallpox. They attacked a small camp of Kainai. But a larger camp of Piikani were nearby and soon the Cree were outnumbered. This was the last time the Cree and Blackfoot fought each other.

Winter Count
1870 – When we beat the Cree at Lethbridge.

1870 - When we beat the Cree at Lethbridge.  From Bull Plume's Winter Count, Collection of Glenbow Museum

From Bull Plume's Winter Count
Collection of Glenbow Museum


Maohksisoka’simiiksi
(North-West Mounted Police)

The Maohksisoka’simiiksi (North-West Mounted Police) were sent west to evict the American whisky traders and restore order. They also brought a new law to our people.

R.B. Nevitt, First Whiskey Spilled, 1874 watercolour and pencil, Collection of Glenbow Museum 747.11

R.B. Nevitt,
First Whiskey Spilled, 1874,
Collection of Glenbow Museum


When There were Many Buffalo

In 1875 the I.G. Baker Company at Fort Benton, Montana, shipped 75,000 buffalo hides to the eastern United States. Most of these were traded by our people for other items.

Winter Count
1875 – When there were many buffalo.

Winter Count  1875 - When there were many buffalo. From Bull Plume's Winter Count, Collection of Glenbow Museum

From Bull Plume's Winter Count
Collection of Glenbow Museum


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