History of Siksika Nation
Prior to European Contact
Treaty and Post Treaty Era
Indian Agent Era
Present-day Siksika Nation
Since time immemorial, the Children of the Plains, the Blackfoot, have roamed a traditional territory that stretched from the North Saskatchewan River in Alberta and Saskatchewan to the Yellowstone River in the state of Montana, from the Continental Divide in the west to the Great Sand Hills in the province now known as Saskatchewan.
Traditional Blackfoot Territory Prior to 1600
Siksika Sundance encampment 1880s
Prior to the arrival of the European to this land, Blackfoot Government (act of governing, power) was very attentive to the Traditional Concepts of Government.
How we selected Chiefs?
How we governed ourselves?
How plans were made?
- Ultimate authority of the Creator.
- Leadership was non-hierarchical (united, mixed).
- Consensus was used in the decision making and choosing leaders (specific skills).
- Nomadic lifestyle (central governing unit).
- Religious beliefs and values established – maintained social order and behavior.
- Families ties enhanced – Extended family systems – nurtured a shared responsibility.
- Leaders recognized by – their Special deeds and/or special talents/gifts.
- Prerequisites of leadership role – individual’s capacity to share and care for all people especially the very young and the aged.
- Individual freedom was safeguarded and encouraged to mature.
Chronological overview of Siksika (Blackfoot) Government:
Time of Traditional Territorial Government.
Time of Treaty.
Time of Indian Act.
Time of Siksika Traditional Territorial Government
Prior to the 1800s, Siksika Government structure was made up of thirty-six (36) Clans. This translated into a total of 18,000 Siksika. Clans grouped themselves into three (3) main tribes; each were responsible for maintaining the boundaries of the Nation (Confederacy).
To the North were the North Blackfoot, who camped along the North Saskatchewan River. To the South were the South Blackfoot who protected lands as far South as the Missouri River. The Middle Blackfoot were responsible for all lands between the Rocky Mountains and the Cypress Hills.
1830: Missionaries came and influence began within the Siksika (Blackfoot) Confederacy.
Indian Affairs in Ottawa ceased being a branch of the military and became part of the Public Service.
1800 – 1882: Raids and wars fought by Siksika War Chiefs of the Confederacy resulted in numerous Chiefs being killed or wounded. Unknown diseases also devastated the Siksika people between 1864 and 1870. Siksika became vulnerable at this point in time and a subsequent decrease in buffalo added to the hardships of the Chiefs and people.
1874: Whiskey fort built at Blackfoot Crossing. This was the year the N.W.M.P. arrived in the Confederacy’s Territory.
1865: Father Lacombe (R.C. Missionary) first met Chief Crowfoot.
Time of Treaty
1876: Canadian Government passed the first Indian Act which was the principal instrument used by the government, and indirectly by the subsequent Provincial Governments, to exercise control over the lives of First Nations in Canada.
1877: Treaty No. 7 made at Blackfoot Crossing. Changes in relationship both internally and externally occurred.
1877 - 1948
During this period, the Siksika still recognized their Chiefs as lifetime, traditional Chiefs as traditional clans still in existed within the Nation.
Chief Crowfoot(1830 – 1890).“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of the buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”
Chief Crowfoot represented the North Blackfoot and was a key participant in the signing of Treaty 7.
Chief Old Sun (1819 – 1897).Old Sun was the Traditional Chief of the North Blackfoot and a participant of the making of Treaty 7.
1883: Siksika clans dropped down to only nineteen. Canadian Pacific Railway was built through Blackfoot Reserve. At this time few horses existed on the reserve.
1890: Chief Crowfoot died at the age of 60 and the North Blackfoot population was down to approximately 600 to 800 members. For the next year the Blackfoot had no Head Chief.
1894 – 1913: Siksika tried gardening and traded horses to start cattle herds.
1897 – 1900: Residential schools were built at Blood and Blackfoot Reserves. (Roman Catholic and Anglican)
Time of Indian Act Leadership (Process of Administration)
1951: Unilateral imposition of Indian Act Chief by Indian Superintendent.
1954: First elections under Indian Act to vote in Siksika Chief and Council.
1954 – 1999: Siksika Nation still electing their leadership under the Indian Act.
1960: Siksika Land Claim brought to Ottawa (Castle Mountain Claim).
Castle Mountain(Land Claim)
(l) Chief Stimson with Land Claim Commission.
(r) Land Claim Manager Joe Weasel Child
Significant initiatives undertaken by Siksika Nation including Research, Planning and Strategy:
1980 – 87: Pros and Cons of establishing Portfolio System. Restructuring of Blackfoot Administration, Development of Blackfoot Tribal Self-Governing Structures, Institutions and Administration.
1988 – 95: Chief Strater Crowfoot elected Chief of Siksika Nation. Revitalization of Siksika Nation Organizational Structure. Self-Government Negotiations. Land Claims negotiations.
On going Bassano Dam Claim
1988: Blackfoot Self-determination process (C.B.S.G., Possible amendments to the Indian Act, Constitutional Amendments.)
Siksika Self-Government Framework brought to Ottawa.
1991: Framework signed; Negotiations continued.
1994: Siksika negotiating Treaty Based Self-Government. C.B.S.G. terminated by Minister of Indian Affairs.
1995: Negotiations continued by Siksika with Governments. Federal Government hesitant to accept Siksika Global Approach.
1996 – 97: Chief Robert Breaker elected Chief of Siksika Nation. Review of Affiliation of Siksika Nation with external political organization and T.B.S.G.
Review of Proposed Siksika Nation Organizational Structure. Funding terminated for negotiating First Nations that don’t have Agreement In Principle in place.
Feb. 12, 1996: Siksika signed Framework Agreement (First Nation Management).
1998 – 99: Chief Darlene Yellow Old Woman-Munro elected as Chief of Siksika Nation. First woman Chief elected of Siksika Nation and in the Confederacy.
2000 – 2006: Chief Adrian Stimson Sr. elected as Chief of Siksika Nation.
2007 – 2010: Leroy Good Eagle elected as Chief of Siksika Nation.
Blackfoot Chiefs in 2001 reunite Blackfoot Confederacy
(l to r) Piikani Councilor Edwin Small Legs, Blackfeet Chief Earl Old Person, Blood Chief Chris Shade, Siksika Chief Adrian Stimson Sr. Piikani Chief Peter Strikes With A Gun
Alberta Provincial Government and Siksika Nation sign Protocol Agreement (2001)
Siksika Today - Community Outlook
Present population and available housing
Present population of Siksika Nation 5700
3252 estimated living on reserve
2448 estimated living off reserve
1996 to 2001 pop change (%) 3.6 - Siksika, 10.2 - Alberta.
Rental units to date 1000
308 applicants requesting housing
Dwellings constructed 1991-2001 = 265
Typical Community Layout
Old Sun Community College
Provincial Courthouse/Police Station/Emergency Services
Chief Old Sun Elementary School
Siksika Nation High School
Siksika Elder’s Lodge
Siksika Public Works
Siksika Headstart School
Employment and Training Centre
Siksika Community Centre
Siksika Medicine Lodge
Single Men’s Lodge
Siksika Children’s Daycare Centre
Siksika Head-start School
Siksika Townsite Lagoon opening
Arthur Ayoungman Water Treatment Plant
Gordon Yellowfly “PIIKSA-PI” Memorial Powwow Arbour
Siksika Health & Wellness Center
Siksika information appear courtesy from Siksika Administration Publicist and Clarence Wolf Leg. All rights reserved.