Siksika Nation History
Since time immemorial, the Children of the Plains, the Siksikai’tsitapi – Blackfoot People, have lived in and protected a territory that stretches from the North Saskatchewan River in present day Alberta and Saskatchewan to the Yellowstone River in the state of Montana, from the Continental Divide in the west to Regina in the province now known as Saskatchewan.
Today, Siksika Nation population is approximately 7800+ and is part of the Siksikaitsitapi – Blackfoot Confederacy. The Siksikaitsitapi refers to four Indigenous Nations which make up the Blackfoot people: the Siksika (Blackfoot), the Kainai (Many Chiefs), the Apatohsipiikani (Northern Peigan) and Amsskapipiikani (Southern Peigan). Siksikai’powahsini (Blackfoot Language) is the language of the Siksikaitsitapi.
Pre Treaty 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.