The Blackfoot Confederacy and its Culture – what may their Future Hold?


September 5, 2019 :: Travis Plaited Hair
Moderated by Terry Shillington

The Blackfoot people is made up of four nations. These nations include the Piegan Blackfeet, Siksika, Piikani Nation, and Kainai. The four nations come together to make up what is known as the Blackfoot Confederacy, meaning that they have banded together to help one another. The nations have their own separate governments ruled by a head chief, but regularly come together for religious and social celebrations.

Historically, the member peoples of the Confederacy were nomadic bison hunters and trout fishermen, who ranged across large areas of the northern Great Plains of western North America. They followed the bison herds as they migrated between what are now the United States and Canada, as far north as the Bow River. In the early 18th century, they acquired horses and firearms from white traders enabling them to expand their territory at the expense of neighboring tribes. In the mid 19th century, the systematic commercial bison hunting by white hunters nearly ended the bison herds and permanently changed life on the Plains

Periods of starvation and deprivation followed. The Blackfoot tribe, like other Plains Indians, was forced to adopt ranching and farming, settling on permanent reservations. In the 1870s, their band signed treaties with both the United States and Canada, ceding most of their lands in exchange for annuities of food and medical aid, as well as help in learning to farm. But the Blackfoot have worked to maintain their traditional language and culture in the face of assimilationist policies of both the U.S. and Canada. The speaker will elaborate on how Blackfoot culture is unique and speculate on what issues the future may bring.

Speaker: Travis Plaited Hair

Travis Plaited Hair is currently the Executive Director of Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Society and Leader of the centuries-old Sacred Horns Society of the Blood Reserve. This society is an informal governance system that carries traditional authorities for various societies and their practices within the Blackfoot culture such as the Sun Dance. Travis’ career has involved working closely with many groups on issues that directly affect southern Alberta’s Indigenous population.

Travis previously served as Liaison Officer for Blood Tribe Chief and Council from 2013-2017. He worked at Lethbridge College as an FNMI Student Advisor from 2011 to 2013 and is presently a member of the Lethbridge College Board of Governors. Travis is an educator in cultural awareness, a role model and mentor to Indigenous youth. He is passionate about helping young adults preserve their cultural beliefs and traditions while learning how to live healthy productive lives both on and off the reserve.


Moderator: Terry Shillington

Date: Thursday, September 5, 2019
Time: Doors open 11:30 am, Presentation 12 noon, buffet lunch 12:30 pm, Q&A 1 – 1:30 pm
Location: Royal Canadian Legion (north door) 324 Mayor Magrath Dr. S. Lethbridge
Cost: $14 buffet lunch with dessert/coffee/tea/juice or $2 coffee/tea/juice. RSVP not required


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