In the Village of Blackfeet

In the Village of Blackfeet Indians near St. Mary's Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana.
The Blackfeet Indians are the westernmost of the Algonquin stock, and are of three tribes, the Siksika (Blackfeet); the Kainah (Many Chiefs); and the Pikuni (Wearing Apparel). Under their protection were the Utsena (Gros Ventres), also of Algonquin stock, and the Soksipwoyiks (Sureis), a small tribe of Athabaskan stock.

In 1814 this confederacy of tribes numbered about 16,000 lodges (80,000 people). They owned a vast country, extending from the Saskatchewan River, in Canada south to the Yellowstone, and from the Rocky Mountains east to about a north and south line that would intersect the junction of the Missouri and the Milk Rivers. The tribes have been so decimated by smallpox, warfare, and starvation, that they now number only about 8,000. The Siksika, Kaina, and Soksipwoyiks (since 1873, wards of the Canadian government) are thriving agriculturists. In Montana, the Utsena and Pikuni members of the old confederacy are rapidly dying out.

The reservation of this tribe is too high and cold for successful farming, and the range has been overstocked and eaten out largely by the cattle of white men. The Indian Bureau has forced most of the members of the tribe to accept patents to their lands; but they have been obliged to sell them in order to obtain necessary food. The result is, that those who still live are now pauper citizens of our country, dependent upon the charity of the state. Yet, by the terms of a treaty that they made with our Government in 1855, the Pikuni and the Utsena still legally own about one third of the land within the State of Montana.

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