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Native Languages of the Americas:
Blackfoot (Siksika, Peigan, Piegan, Kainai, Blackfeet)

Language: Blackfoot, or Siksika, is an Algonquian language spoken by 8000 people in southern Alberta and northern Montana. The two main dialects are called Pikanii and Siksika Blackfoot. Many children are still learning Blackfoot, but the language is currently undergoing linguistic shift, with 'Old Blackfoot' being spoken by older generations and 'New Blackfoot' being spoken by younger ones. Blackfoot is a polysynthetic language with complex verb morphology and fairly free word order.

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People: The Blackfoot Nation today actually consists of four distinct Blackfoot nations, who share a historical and cultural background but have separate leadership: the Siksika Nation (whose name literally means Blackfoot), the Akainawa Nation (also called Kainai or Bloods), the Pikanii or Peigan Nation (variously spelled Piikani, Pikani, Pikuni, or Piegan), and the Blackfeet Nation. The first three nations are in Alberta, Canada, and the fourth is in Montana. ("Blackfeet," though the official name of this tribe, is actually a misnomer given to them by white authorities; the word is not plural in the Blackfoot language, and some Blackfoot people in Montana resist this label.) The Blackfoot were nomadic plains hunters, traditional enemies of the Shoshone and Nez Perce. There are about 14,000 Blackfoot Indians today all told.

History: The Blackfoot were a powerful buffalo-hunting society of the northern plains, with most of their settlements in Montana, Idaho, and Alberta. At first the Blackfoot Indians were pleased by the arrival of the Europeans, since the horses they brought were invaluable to buffalo hunters. Unfortunately, things took several turns for the worse. Smallpox epidemics ravaged the Blackfoot population in the mid-1800's (there is evidence that some white settlers may have deliberately helped it along by selling infected blankets). In 1870 American army forces, looking for Mountain Chief's band of hostile Blackfoot Indians, fell instead upon Heavy Runner's peaceable Piegan band and killed 200 of them, many of them women and children. (Mountain Chief and his people escaped across the new border into Canada.) Worse than this, by 1900, the white settlers had wiped out the buffalo herds. Hundreds of Blackfoot Indians starved to death, and the forced transition to sedentary life left a once-mighty nation dependent on government rations. Nevertheless, in the face of these travails the Blackfoot people have not lost their culture, and the Blackfoot Indian language is one of the few indigenous languages in Canada and the United States which has a good chance for survival.

Blackfoot Language Resources
Blackfoot language samples, articles, and indexed links.

Blackfoot Tribe Culture and History
Related links about the Blackfoot Indians past and present.

Blackfoot Indians Fact Sheet
Our answers to frequently asked questions about the Blackfeet Nation, their language and culture.

Blackfeet Indian Legends
Introduction to the mythology of the Blackfeet Indians.

Blackfoot Language Resources

Our Online Language Materials

Blackfoot Vocabulary:
    List of vocabulary words in the Blackfoot language, with comparison to words in other Algonquian languages.
Blackfoot Pronunciation Guide:
    How to pronounce Blackfoot words.
Blackfoot Alphabet and Syllabary:
    Introduction to the Blackfoot writing system for beginners.
Blackfoot Animal Words:
    Picture glossary of animal words in the Blackfoot language.
Blackfoot Body Parts:
    Online and printable worksheets showing parts of the body in the Blackfoot language.
Blackfoot Colors:
    Worksheet showing color words in the Blackfoot language.
Blackfoot Numbers:
    Worksheet showing how to count in Blackfoot.
Blackfoot Animate Nouns:
    Lesson on Blackfoot animate and inanimate nouns.
Blackfoot Possession:
    Lesson on the use of Blackfoot possessive prefixes.

Blackfoot Dictionaries, Audio Tapes and Language Resources

Blackfoot Dictionary of Stems, Roots, and Affixes * Blackfoot-English Vocabulary:
    Blackfoot dictionaries for sale.
Blackfoot Grammar:
    Good linguistic description of the Blackfoot language.
Outline for a Comparative Grammar of some Algonquian Languages:
    Historical text comparing the Blackfoot language to several other Algonquian languages.
Beginning Blackfeet Language:
    12-CD Siksika language learning course produced by the Blackfeet Nation.
Siksika Language Series 1 * Siksika Language Series 2 * Siksika Language Series 3:
    Complete kits for teachers of Blackfoot classes.
Native American Language Dictionaries:
    Blackfoot and other American Indian dictionaries and language materials for sale.

Blackfoot Language Lessons and Linguistic Descriptions

The Blackfoot Language * Blackfoot Linguistic Description * Blackfoot Phonology * Blackfoot Grammar:
    Blackfoot Orthography * Blackfoot Text * Blackfoot Story:
    Scanned-in Blackfoot language materials from the Rosetta Project.
Blackfoot Phonetic Inventory * Blackfoot Acoustic Phonetics:
    Student papers on Blackfoot phonetics, including audio files, spectrograms, and a glossary
    Blackfoot linguistics overview, with phonology, syntax, sociolinguistics, soundfiles, and texts (in progress)
The Blackfoot Language:
    Information on Blackfoot phonetics, morphology and grammar.
Blackfoot Syllabary * Blackfoot Syllabarium * Blackfeet Syllabary:
    Introductions to the old Blackfoot writing system, with sample texts.
Siksika Language Samples:
    Twenty audio glossaries from the Siksika First Nation.
Blackfoot Lexicon:
    Blackfoot audio glossary.
Stories and Spaces: Exploring Kainai Plants and Culture:
    Database of Blackfoot plants and herbs, with information on traditional use in Blackfoot, English and French.
Siksika Language Phrasebook * Blackfoot Audio Samples:
    Blackfoot words and phrases, with audio files.
Freelang Blackfoot Dictionary:
    Free downloadable wordlist from the Blackfoot language.
Blackfoot Language Tree:
    Theories about Blackfoot's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Siksika Language Structures:
    Blackfoot linguistic profile and academic bibliography.

Literature and Texts in the Blackfoot Language

Blackfoot Language:
    Genesis verse translated into the Siksika Indian language.
Blackfoot Indian Prayers:
    The Lord's Prayer and other Christian prayers translated into Pikanii Blackfoot.
Canadian Human Rights Tribute: Peigan:
    Plaque in the Peigan (Blackfoot) Indian language.

Blackfoot Language Preservation and Usage

Blackfoot Language P reservation:
    NPR audio report on Blackfoot language revitalization efforts.
House of Languages: Blackfoot:
    Information about Blackfoot language usage.
Ethnologue: Blackfoot:
    Demographic information about the Blackfoot language.
Blackfeet Course Descriptions:
    Course descriptions from the Blackfeet Community College, including Black feet language classes.
Learning Blackfoot:
    Bibliography of Blackfoot language learning resources.

Blackfoot Proper Names

Blackfoot Surnames:
    Short list of Blackfoot family names, with some associated genealogical information.
Blackfoot Names:
    How to spell English names using the Blackfoot syllabary.
Aboriginal Place Names of Alberta:
    List of Blackfoot, Stoney, Cree, Slavey, and Sarcee placenames in southern Alberta, with their English translations.
American Indian Names for Pets:
    Our new fundraiser offering names for dogs and other animals in Native American languages (including Blackfoot).

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Additional Resources, Links, and References

  Wikipedia: Blackfoot:
  Encyclopedia article on the Siksika language.
  La Lengua Blackfoot:
  Article on the Blackfoot language in Spanish. With a language map.
  Information on the Blackfoot language in French, including a phonological inventory.
  Blackfoot Language * Blackfoot Tribe * Blackfeet:
  Blackfoot links pages.
  Blackfoot Tribe:
  Blackfoot Indian books.

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