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Blackfoot Possession

On our parts of the body and kinship terms worksheets, you may notice that all the Blackfoot words begin with N. Ni- or Nit- is a Blackfoot prefix that means "my." Possessive prefixes can be used with almost any noun in Blackfoot. For most nouns, the possessive prefixes are ni-, ki-, and o- before a noun that begins with a consonant, and nit-, kit-, and ot- before a noun that begins with a vowel.

mííni (a berry) nimííni (my berry) kimííni (your berry) omííni (his or her berry)
akáa'tsisi (a robe) nitakáa'tsisi (my robe) kitakáa'tsisi (your robe) otakáa'tsisi (his or her robe)


However, certain nouns (including most body parts and kinship terms) have inalienable possession in Algonquian languages like Blackfoot. That means you must use a possessive prefix with one of those words. You cannot say *iksíssta, "a mother," or *ohkáti, "a fingernail." It isn't grammatically correct. There is an indefinite prefix, M-, which you can use to be abstract or if the possessor is unknown to you (i.e. if a body part has been severed, or has hit you from behind.)

For these words, the possessive pronouns are slightly different. The pronouns are n-, k-, and o-.

*ohkáti (root noun, not used alone) nohkáti (my foot) kohkáti (your foot) ohkáti (his or her foot) mohkáti (one's foot)
*iksíssta (root noun, not used alone) niksíssta (my mother) kiksíssta (your mother) oksísstsi (his or her mother)

Notice that when animate words use the third person form ("his or her"), there is not only a prefix (o-) but also a suffix (-i) at the end of the word. This is not true for inanimate words.


Click here for a pronunciation guide.
Click here for more Siksika language resources.
Learn more about the Blackfeet tribe.


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