Niitsitapi traditional territory extended from the North Saskatchewan River to the Yellowstone River in what is now southern Montana. The Rocky Mountains formed their western border while the eastern boundary extended southward from the confluence of the North and South Saskatchewan rivers.
Some historians believe that Niitsitapi homeland was much smaller. Ted Binnema, who has written extensively about the Niitsitapi interaction with fur traders, suggests that Niitsitapi did not extend further south than the Bow River.
Hugh Dempsey, in a collection of l Niitsitapi stories, recounts Scabby Round Robe’s defeat of a “Snake” (possibly Shoshone) leader and the resulting Niitsitapi expansion south of the Bow River.
The discrepancies in defining a Niitsitapi territory reflect cultural differences in the perception of the landscape. A Western (i.e. European-base) perspective tends to look for definite boundaries which are rigorously defended. Niitsitapi perspective considers the broad distribution of resources. While clans tended to camp in favoured areas, they were well aware of places to which they could move if the local resources failed. The vast territory identified by Niitsitapi includes the entire region to which they had access for food and other resources.
About the image:
Traditional Map. The Blackfoot's traditional territory spread eastward from the Rocky Mountains, across the northwestern plains. Courtesy of Glenbow Museum.