Sacred Sites of Treaty Seven Territory

Written by Rebecca Many Grey Horses

Nestled next to the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, are the Porcupine Hills that are considered to be prime buffalo country.  They are marked with buffalo jumps and pounds.  The hill tops of the Southern Alberta prairies are dotted with sacred sites of tipi rings, medicine wheels, effigies, cairns, and vision quest sites.     

The Blackfoot had many places where they would convene for sacred ceremonies, with prayers and fasting, connecting with the spiritual realm.  There are thousands of sacred places throughout Blackfoot Territory. The Blackfoot passed down this knowledge of the past through oral tradition, and other evidence comes through artifacts and those remaining landmarks which have survived the settlement of the prairies. Medicine wheels, tipi rings, rock formations, pictographs, rock writings, effigies, buffalo jumps, pounds and cairns provide historical clues to the past of the Blackfoot people.  Many of these places have been destroyed, these sites viewed as being just rocks or cairns to the settlers. Unfortunately disrespect for these historical, and sometimes sacred sites continue to the present day despite efforts to protect them. 

More than 160 vision quest sites have been identified, from the Crowsnest Pass in the Canadian Rockies on down through Montana.  To the Blackfoot these sites remain as sacred as when the ancestors walked these parts. The origin stories and legends align with the locations and landmarks of the sites. 

The following are the most important sacred sites to the Blackfoot, they are used for vision seeking sites, fasting, ceremonies, the place to gather medicinal plants, and some have springs considered sacred water with spiritual energy.  Ninastako (Chief Mountain) is considered to be one of the most sacred mountains, Omahkai'stoo (Crowsnest Peak), Paahtómahksik (Waterton Lakes National Park), Kátoyissiksi (Sweetgrass Hills) Cypress Hills, Áísínai’pi (Writing-on-Stone) are other sacred sites that hold many stories and landmarks of ancient ceremonies.  Many of these sites are still revered and honored, ceremonies still take place there, and plant medicines ae still harvested in the areas by the Blackfoot and other First Nations,  


Writing on Stone is in Southeastern Alberta, near the town of Milk River, it is a revered site for the Blackfoot, and a UNESCO world heritage site.  It has always been regarded as a powerful place, where stories have woven the spiritual sacredness of the land into them.  Aisinai’pi has been regarded as a place of safety for the Blackfoot and other First nations passing through.  It is known as an area of vision quests, ceremonial site and offering point for the Blackfoot. There are many Blackfoot legends that tell stories of the sacredness of the land.  One of the last known persons to write on the stone cliffs of Aisinai’pi was a Blackfeet man; Bird Rattler, who also told of a story of a battle between the Blackfoot and the Gros Ventres that took place while the Blackfeet were settled into their winter camp at the Aisinai’pi area.

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