Siksika Indians. A native word signifying “black feet,” by which term the tribe is best known. By some they are said to be called Blackfeet from the discoloration of their moccasins by the ashes of prairie fires, but more probably their moccasins were dyed black. Also called :
- Ah-hi’-ta-pe, former name for themselves, signifying “blood people.”
- Ayatchinini, Chippewa name.
- Ayatchiyiniw, Cree name, signifying “stranger,” or “enemy.”
- Beaux Hommes, so given by Dobbs (1744).
- Carmeneh, Crow name.
- Choch-Katit, Arikara name.
- Ish-te-pit’-e, Crow name.
- I tsi sf pi sa, Hidatsa name, signifying “black feet.”
- Katce, Sarsi name.
- Ka-wi-‘na-han, Arapaho name, signifying “black people.”
- Makadewana-ssidok, Chippewa name.
- M&makat&’wana-si’ta’-ak, Fox name.
- Netsepoy, sometimes used by the Confederacy and signifying “people who speak our language.”
- Pah-kee, Shoshoni name.
- Po’-o-mas, Cheyenne name, signifying “blankets whitened with earth.”
- Saha’ntla, Kutenai name, signifying “bad people.”
- Sawketakix, name sometimes used by themselves, signifying “men of the plains.”
- S’chkoe, or S’chkoeishin, Kalispel name, from kohl, “black.”
- Sica’be, Kansa name.
- Si-ha’-sa-pa, Yankton Dakota name, signifying “black feet.”
- SkuafshLni, Salish name, signifying “black feet.”
- Stxuafxn, Okinagan name, signifying “black.”
- Tonkonko, Kiowa name, signifying “black legs.”
- Tuhu’vti-6mokat, Comanche name.
- Wateni’hte, Arapaho name.
Siksika Location. In the territory stretching from North Saskatchewan River, Canada, to the southern headstreams of the Missouri in Montana, and from about longitude 105° W. to the base of the Rocky Mountains.
The Siksika are divided into the following subtribes: The Siksika or Blackfeet proper, occupying the northern part of the above territory; the Kainah or Bloods south of the preceding; and the Piegan, south of the Kainah, the one best represented in the United States.
Each of the above divisions was subdivided into bands as follows:
Kainah or Blood bands:
- Motahtosiks. .
- Motwainaiks. .
- Susksoyiks (Hayden, 1862)..
Siksika History. According to certain traditions, the Siksika moved into their present territory from the northeast, and it is at least evident that they had gravitated westward, their movement probably accelerated by the acquisition of horses. They were at war with nearly all of their neighbors except the Athapascan Sarsi and the Atsina; both of these tribes usually acted with them. They were on relatively friendly terms with the English of the Hudson’s Bay posts in Canada, upon whom they depended for guns and ammunition, but were hostile to the Whites on the American side, in large measure because through them their enemies received the same kind of sup-plies. They were several times decimated by smallpox but suffered less than many tribes not so far removed from White influences, and have never been forced to undergo removal from their home country. They are now gathered under agencies on both sides of the Inter-national Boundary and are slowly adapting themselves to White modes of life.
Siksika Population. Mooney (1928) estimates that in 1780 there were 15,000 Blackfeet. Mackenzie (1801) gave 2,250 to 2,500 warriors for 1790, which would reduce Mooney’s (1928) figures by about one-half, but in the meantime the smallpox epidemic of 178081 had occurred. The official Indian Report for 1858 gave 7,300 and another estimate of about the same period, said by Hayden (1862) to have been made “under the most favorable circumstances,” reported 6,720. In 1909 the official enumeration of those in the United States was 2,195, and of those in Canada 2,440, a total of 4,635. The census of 1910 gave 2,367 in the United States, all but 99 of whom were Piegan. The United States Indian Office Report for 1923 gives 3,124 Blackfeet and the Report of the Canadian Department of Indian Affairs for 1924, 2,236; total, 5,360. The United States census of 1930 reported 3,145. In 1937 the Office of Indian Affairs reported 4,242.
Connections in which the Siksika have become noted. The Siksika were peculiar:
- As one of the largest and most warlike tribes of the northern Plains, next to the Dakota alone in prominence.
- As speaking one of three highly specialized languages of the Algonquian stock.
- As among the bitterest opponents of explorers and traders on the American side of the International Boundary.
- As having given the name Blackfoot to a considerable town in Idaho, capital of Bingham County, to a creek in the same county, to mountains in Idaho and Alberta, to a river in Montana, and to a village in Glacier County, in the same State.