Who are the Blackfeet and how do they refer to themselves
Though referred to as the Blackfeet or Blackfoot, they prefer to refer to themselves as the Nitsitapiksi, which means “Real People.” This term is not only used by the Blackfeet to refer to themselves but to all First Peoples of the Americas (Ni-tsi-ta-pi-ksi, The Blackfoot Gallery Committee, 2001, 3). The Blackfoot Nation is a confederacy of three Nations, the Kainai, the Pikani and Siksika (The Blackfoot Gallery Committee, 2001, 2/3). These three Nations however are more commonly referred to in mainstream literature as the Blood, Peigan, and the Northern Blackfoot or the Blackfeet of Montana and are not the terms chosen by the Blackfeet Nations to refer to them selves (The Blackfoot Gallery Committee, 2001, 2).
This terminology, it would appear results from mistranslations of Blackfoot words, or names given to the Blackfeet from neighboring First Nations (source). For example the term Peigan is believed to have originated from an English mispronunciation of Pikani. How the Kainai ( which translates into “Many Leaders”) became known as the Blood Nation has many explanations, one is that it describes the term Aapaitsitapi by the Cree due to the ceremonial paint which was used on the face and hands which looked like blood. A second explanation is that the term in fact referred the weasel pelts the Kanai wore and it was mistranslated to mean the blood peoples (Bastien 2004, 10). Siksika is a literal translation of Blackfoot Peoples, the term Blackfoot or Blackfeet is said to have come from the Plains Cree who were referring the moccasins of the Blackfeet which were either painted black or turned black from walking on ashes left after fires on the plains (Bastien 2004, 10).
Blackfoot Territory and migration
Nitawashi is the term used by the Blackfeet to describe their territory, which traditionally spanned from the North Saskatchewan River as far to south as the Yellowstone River, Montana and from the Rocky Mountains as far East as the “Great Sand Hills,” Saskatchewan (The Blackfoot Gallery Committee, 2001, 4/5). Through contact, this territory was divided between two provinces Alberta and Saskatchewan, and two Countries, the United States and Canada. As a result the Pikani Nation, divided by the Canada-US boarder became two Nations the “Amsskaapipkani in Montana” and the “Apatohsipikani in Southern Alberta (The Blackfoot Gallery Committee, 2001, 2).”
While the Blackfeet were a nomadic Peoples who traveled across this land and freely visited each other, today the Blackfeet have homeland has been confined to small plots of land, entitled reservation in the United States and reserves in Canada. In Montana there is one Blackfoot reserve bounded by the Canadian boarder and Glacier Park, in Canada there are three Blackfoot reserves (source).
Traditionally, the Siksika tended to set up living camps in the northern and eastern parts of the territory, while the Kainai tended to live in the...