Don Healy's

The Blackfeet Nation

Located in western Montana, the Piegans, or Pikuni branch of the Blackfeet (Blackfoot) Confederacy is the southernmost group of Blackfeet (Blackfoot) Indians. The other two branches, the Siksika and the Kainah or Blood, are residents of Canada.  In Canada, the singular term "Blackfoot" is preferred, the Pikuni are always referred to in the plural "Blackfeet". The Pikuni, which means "poorly dressed", occupy a reservation of 937,838 acres straddling the border with Canada and abutting Glacier National Park. Their reservation was established in 1855.

The term "Blackfeet" comes from their habit of dyeing their moccasins black. In a rare occurrence, the reservation assigned to the Blackfeet in Montana coincides with their traditional homelands, though greatly reduced in size (ENAT, 31-33).

The Blackfeet capital is in the town of Browning, which acts as the eastern gateway to Glacier National Park, affording the many visitors to the park a chance to see the Blackfeet's heritage and flag. Browning serves as home to the "Museum of the Plains Indians" (NAA, 36-43).

The Blackfeet were known for their beautiful craftwork - their tepees, clothing, weapons and riding equipment were of exceptional design. Their warbonnets, one of which appears on the flag, were unique in that the feathers stood straight up. Many examples of the art of the Blackfeet can be found in the "Museum of the Plains Indian".

The flag, which is not used extensively, is a medium blue and bears at the hoist a ceremonial lance or coup stick, having 29 eagle feathers attached (sample flag provided by Elmer's Flag & Banner, Portland, OR).

In the center is a ring of 32 white and black eagle feathers surrounding a map of the reservation. On this appears a warbonnet and the name of the tribe in English and in the Algonquin based native tongue of the Blackfeet. All items appearing in the center are white with black edging and black lettering.

My thanks to various Blackfoot/Blackfeet members for explaining the terminology and naming conventions that are employed by the various Confederacy members.

For those seeking help tracing their roots to the Blackfeet, please click on the teepee below. This will take you to the Official Website of the Blackfeet Nation. From the Main page there is a link to their genealogical service (at the lower right as of the time of this writing)

Don Healy, Bisbee, Az 85603