Understanding traditional way of life

Our Language & Culture

Understanding Traditional Way Of Life
blackfoot language & Culture

Blackfoot culture and language complement one another. Language allows individuals to connect to our traditional way of life. Cultural teachings connect to the land and stories of the Blackfoot people.

During Blackfoot Women’s Empowerment Community Needs Assessment, women voiced a need to learn more about our traditional way of life. Our elders have encouraged us also to learn the language.

Residential school hindered much of the traditional cultural teachings, and we are now at a critical phase of history where we are reconnecting to our traditional way of life.

Culture and language exist together and provide a connection to spiritual teachings that are connected to the land. The Blackfoot territory consisted of many clans from the four Nations of Siksika, Piikani, Kainai, & Browning.

Helping our families understand the lineage they come from helps them develop a greater understanding of who they are as a Blackfoot person.

Having a strong connection to the collective identity and Blackfoot culture helps a person make connections to people in the community/Nation.

One of our responsibilities is to help our children learn who their relatives are in the past and now. What you may realize is that your family comes from a strong line of leadership and knowledge.

Many of the last names created were based on the features of a person. It’s also based in the family that they come from. As part of the cultural teachings, you will see that many cultural teachings are based on the landscape withing Blackfoot territory.

The focus of language and cultural teaching is restricted to Blackfoot people in Southern Alberta. We encourage you to only speak about what you are part of. That is one reason that a First Nation person will never speak about another group in Canada. It is not our place to speak for another Nation.

The project so far has shown that the focus of economic security on prosperity is not based on a Western colonialization view of monetary cash value as the means to gain prosperity and security.

The working definition of economic security to Blackfoot women’s prosperity is based on the idea that prosperity is about more than money; it is about culture, identity, way of life and the active sustaining of that knowledge.

Having the skills and wisdom to take care of your family without money brings security. Security is also having access to hunting and knowledge of the land to ensure you can gather what you need. Security is also about the strength of relationships.

Here you will find language resources and cultural teachings of the Siksikasitapii.

The Iniskim

Long ago the Makoyi (wolves) had shown our people how to live on the land. Although our people followed these instructions life continued to be difficult until one day the Iini (bison) took pity on the people.

One day Weasel Woman was collecting water from a river near her camp when she heard something calling and singing to her from the bushes. When she looked closer, she found a stone that spoke to her. The stone explained how it could be used in a ceremony that would call the buffalo towards a pisskan (buffalo jump).

Weasel Woman took the iniskim, the buffalo calling stone, back to camp. She told the spiritual leaders about the ceremony to call the buffalo. The people followed her instructions and soon they had plenty of meat and many hides for new lodge covers.

There are numerous iniskim on the prairies. Many people still keep them as sacred bundles. We call on iniskim to help us have successful lives.