Would travel to the Arkansas' hot springs to gather together with other tribes to hunt, trade, and take the healing waters. Even when their peoples were at war, individuals of opposing tribes could come together here in safety and peace.
According to Blackfoot storytellers, their forefathers successfully goaded buffalo to their deaths by "buffalo jumps" only when a gifted shaman oversaw the proceedings. At the start, hunt leaders would position women and children behind piles of stones arranged in a V-shape that narrowed to a point at the edge of a sheer cliff. The buffalo were enticed to enter the wedge by a slow-hobbling man disguised in a fur robe. Other people brought up the rear, yelling and flapping robes and waving the scented smoke of burning cedar in the air. This gave the impression of a terrifying forest fire, causing the great beasts to stampede over the edge of the cliff. Down below, a makeshift enclosure prevented wounded animals from escaping, while arrows and spears rained down from all sides until the lifeless carcasses could be approached by the butchering parties.
Nearby, on the flat prairie, there would be a campsite where women quartered and finally "flaked" the fresh meat, slicing very thin strips and drying them on pole racks. The dried meat was later prepared in various ways; a favorite and highly nutritious method was to pound it with granite pestles, blending in dried berries and buffalo tallow, and finally packing the mix into rawhide containers later winter consumption.
They survived by hunting and gathering in the wooded pockets and broad grasslands of southern Manitoba and western Saskatchewan.
The horse effigy were often used to honor specially trained warrior horses that had distinguished themselves in battle.
Told of an orphan boy, considered dim-witted, who sought this mysterious creature in a spirit lake. After undergoing a series of ordeals, he finally reached the lake and plunged into its waters. Underneath was a sacred landscape, where a spirit chief led him to galloping, lively pono-makita, or "elk dogs." From the spirit chief the boy requested part of the elk dog herd. When he rode back into his home village, his people thought he was some half-man, half-animal monster. The boy turned the horses over to the people, saying, "Now we no longer need be humble footsloggers, because these animals will carry us swiftly everywhere we want to go. Now buffalo hunting will be easy. Now our teepees will be larger, our possessions will be greater, because an elk dog travois can carry a load ten times bigger that that of a dog."
After the appearance of horses, teepees doubled in height and Blackfoot women began sewing such large teepees that their hide covers had to be tailored in two halves, with store-bought brass buttons used to fasten them up the western side, while old-fashioned willow pins were used to lace them together on the eastern doorway side.
Blackfoot boys were "age-graded" as they grew up through membership in an advancing series of societies, each with increased responsibilities.
Among the Blackfoot, buffalo-calling ceremonies were performed by members of the all-female mutokaiks, or Buffalo Bull Society.
A Blackfoot four-pole teepee floor plan shows the doorway facing the rising sun. Its steeper rear side braces the tilted structure against prevailing westerly winds, allowing the fire to be directly below the smoke flaps.
In 1839-1840, small pox broke out, killing as many as 8,000 Blackfoot. In 1883-1884, the Montana Blackfoot, already reduced to little more than 2,000 in all, were unable to locate any game due to the buffalo "vanishing", and were helpless to prevent 600 of their tribe from freezing or starving to death.
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