The Blackfoot tribes consisted of an association between several individual tribes such as the Pikuni, Kainai, South-North Piegan and Siksika. The various tribes spoke the same language, intermarried, fought similar enemies and shared the same cultural traits. As a group, these tribes referred to each other as the Nizitapi, meaning the ‘Real People.’ The Blackfoot name originated from the first contacts with Europeans who derived it from the dyed black moccasins that members of the tribe wore. The range of the Blackfoot tribes was from southern Canada to Texas and consisted of what became the centre of the United States. The bulk of the Blackfoot Nation was located in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Montana. During the 1800s the Blackfoot tribes were “the most powerful of the Northern Plains Native groups” (Ewers, 2003). Collectively, they impeded European westward expansion to a certain extent.
Fur-trappers were the first person’s of European descent to explore the Blackfoot Nation occupied regions of the west. During the late 1700s, the trappers established trading posts which initiated business relationships with the native’s population. This new relationship introduced tribal members to firearms which aided them while hunting or defending themselves. The association also brought smallpox which devastated the Blackfoot tribes’ population. The trading posts offered provisions outside of what was supplied in nature and enhanced the tribal economies which were previously tied directly to following the buffalo herds. Buffalo provided almost everything the Blackfoot needed including food, clothes, weapons and shelter until they were nearly hunted into extinction in the 1880s.
The Blackfoot used several methods to hunt buffalo prior to the introduction of the horse in America’s. .One method included surrounding a small group of buffalo, forcing them into an ever-tightening circle, then attacking or chasing them over a cliff.