Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Blackfoot (Blackfeet) Nation

The Blackfoot Nation are 'perhaps the most powerful tribe of Indians on the continent' according to the North American Indians of 1866. The Blackfoot are a Nation who are very proud of their history but also see a bright future for their tribe as seen by the slogan on their official webpage which reads, "A Proud Past, A Bright Future".

The website which I have chosen to look at gives an insight into the Blackfeet past and present, as well as facts about their culture. A paragraph which I found interesting about the Nation's culture,
"Through it all, we Blackfeet have remained a deeply spiritual people that have struggled to preserve and protect our culture, language, way of life, and way of thinking. We have an incredibly rich heritage of traditions, customs, beliefs, art, and stories. We have kept the flame of our culture alive through times when it was in constant danger of being extinguished. Today, thanks to our elders and ancestors who kept it flickering, the flame is burning brighter and brighter every year. It will soon be a blaze that will eventually outshine and outlive societies with shallower roots, a weaker notion of who they are and why they are here, and a lesser sense of obligation to the natural world, their community, and to each other."
This paragraph of their webpage shows how they are proud and thankful of their heritage, but what I found particularly interesting was towards the end, where it states that they will eventually outshine and outlive societies with shallower roots. Perhaps a suggestion to todays popular culture and material lifestyle in America?

Regarding the tribes history the website has a very detailed account of key moments in Blackfoot history, but they are also very critical of lecturers and professors who claim to know about them, they state that only they know their true history. "O
ur Creation Story, handed down through a hundred generations, takes place at Badger-Two Medicine, a sacred place next to what is today the Blackfeet Reservation and Glacier Park. If a scholar wants to tell us that somewhere in the dark and distant mists of prehistory we walked from Asia, or came by raft across one ocean or another, we will listen and smile, because we like our Creation Story better." They speak of how they were in the early 1800's a race of 20,000 but due to the Europeans bringing war and smallpox they were diminished to a mere 6,000.

But the tribe did recover from this and today they stand as the biggest tribe in Montana and as one of the largest in the United States with a population of around 16,000 and in the 2000 census around 84,000 people identified as having Blackfoot ancestry. The Blackfeet identify themselves as being a generous tribe who look to help rebuild what they and other tribes have lost over time, they have a strong relationship with their land today as the claim to not own it, but they are owned by it.

The website is very well presented and the Blackfeet try to interest new members to joining their tribe by informing them about their beliefs and values, also the website is good for those people who are already members of the Blackfoot Nation, they have a Tribal Members news tab and also they have a Tribal Heroes section, in which they list important members of their society and why they are so important.

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