Blackfoot Territory of Treaty Seven

Written by Rebecca Many Grey Horses

“Ksahkominoon” our land as described, is the Blackfoot Traditional ancestral territory that extends along the east side of the Rocky Mountains from the Yellowstone river in southern Montana, north to the North Saskatchewan river in Canada, east into southwestern part of Saskatchewan Canada.  The Nitistapii (Blackfoot) believe they have always lived in this area since time immemorial and their history speaks of their creation, stories, and constant relationship to the land.  The Blackfoot continue to live today, as they always have, on what continues of their ancestral homeland. There are three nations that comprise the Blackfoot Confederacy; one reservation in Northern Montana Amsskaapipiikani, and three reserves in Southern Alberta, the Kainai, Pikunii, and Siksika.   

The Blackfoot Nations had an enormous land base they occupied. Within this territory they had favored areas where they would travel.  In a yearly seasonal cycle, they would travel well over 500 miles to hunt, gather and renew ceremonial commitments. During the dog days the Blackfoot would average about 30 miles per day. However, during the horse travel days, it was easier to double the miles they traveled. 

The Southern Alberta camp locations were selected for the resources that provided food, shelter, and tools.  The Blackfoot Siksika, who camped in the area known as the Saskatchewan River, occupied the most northerly part of the Territory.  The Kainai, favored the areas east, which were the Cypress Hills for their summer, where the buffalo were plentiful.  Their winter camps were on the Belly River, the Highwood, and along the Porcupine Hills.  To the south, the Blackfeet Ammskapikunii, occupied the area, as far south to the Yellowstone.  The area known today as Sikookotoki (Lethbridge) was a favored location for winter camps along the Old man river that would provide shelter, wood, and water.  

The yearly cycle seasonal rounds of the Nitistapii is divided into four seasons; Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. In the days when the buffalo were still plentiful, the patterns of movement indicated the location of important foods.  To an onlooker, the changes in camp locations through the year may appear unplanned, but they were far from that. Each location was known for the resources it held, whether they were plant, animal, or mineral, and year after year, the people returned to these locations. 

The remains of tipi rings, effigies, buffalo jumps, and other artifacts are still scattered on throughout the landscape of Southern Alberta, which are our remaining connections to ancient Blackfoot history.  Blackfoot Territory still holds the memories of Blackfoot ancestors and their bones are entrenched in the lands. The sacred sites, hunting and gathering places, are still identified through the legends and Napi stories, which keep that deep connection to the land for the Blackfoot people. 

To keep learning more about the rich Indigenous culture that helps make the melting pot of lethbridge so unique, keep reading more on our Indigenous Lethbridge page!