In 1754 the Hudson’s Bay Company sent Anthony Henday to invite Niitsitapi to travel to Hudson Bay and engage in trade. Niitsitapi declined, pointing out that everything they needed was close at hand. Their territory had all that was necessary for food, clothing and shelter, and encapsulated their spiritual beliefs and their social relationships. Why, indeed, would they want to leave?
In order to understand Niitsitapi, it is first necessary to understand how they see the world.
Through Ihtsipaitapiyopa (The Essence of All Life) all living things are equal; human beings do not have the right to rule over or exploit the rest of nature. All living beings are equals with unique gifts and abilities. Some plants can cure diseases; other give us important nutrients. Bison are strong animals who provided much of what Niitsitapi needed for survival. Birds are swift flyers who helped warriors to be stealthy and quick.
The Blackfoot-speaking people call themselves Niitsitapi which means “Real People” and distinguishes human beings from the rest of Creation.
About the image:
Dogs were also used to pull travois. Glenbow Archives NA-1463-1