Siksika Tribe

Siksika Indians. A tribe of the Siksika confederacy (see below). They now (1905) live on a reservation in Alberta, Canada, on upper Bow River, and are officially known as the Running Rabbit and Yellow Horse bands. They were divided into the following subtribes or bands: Aisikstukiks, Apikaiyiks, Emi-tahpahksaiyiks, Motahtosiks, Puhksinahmahyiks, Saiyiks, Siksinokaks,Tsiniktsistsoyiks. Pop. 942 in 1902, 795 in 1909.

Siksika Confederacy

Siksika Confederacy, (‘black feet’, from siksinam ‘black’, ka the root of ogkatsh ‘foot’. The origin of the name is disputed, but it is commonly believed to have reference to the discoloring of their moccasins by the ashes of the prairie fires; it may possibly have reference to black-painted moccasins, such as were worn by the Pawnee, Sihasapa, and other tribes). An important Algonquian confederacy of the northern plains, consisting of three subtribes, the Sikisa proper or Blackfeet, the Kainah or Bloods, and the Piegan, the whole body being popularly known as Blackfeet. In close alliance with these are the Atsina and the Sarsi.

Within the recent historic period, until gathered upon reservations, the Blackfeet held most of the immense territory stretching almost from North Saskatchewan River, Canada, to the southern head-streams of the Missouri in Montana, and from about longitude 105° to the base of the Rocky Mountains. A century earlier, or about 1790, they were found by Mackenzie occupying the upper and middle South Saskatchewan, with the Atsina on the lower course of the same stream, both tribes being apparently in slow migration toward the N. W. 1. This would make them the vanguard of the Algonquian movement from the Red River country. With the exception of a temporary occupancy by invading Cree, this extreme northern region has always, within the historic period, been held by Athapascan tribes. The tribe is now [1905] settled on three reservations in Alberta, Canada, and one in N. W. Montana, about half being on each side of the inter-national boundary.

Siksika History

So far as history and tradition go, the Blackfeet have been roving buffalo hunters, dwelling in tipis and shifting periodically from place to place, without permanent habitations, without the pottery art or canoes, and without agriculture excepting for the sowing and gathering of a species of native tobacco. They also gathered the camas root in the foot hills. Their traditions go back to a time when they had no horses and hunted their game on foot; but as early as Mackenzie’s time, before 1800, they already had many horses, taken from tribes farther to the south, and later they became noted for their great horse herds. It is entirely probable that their spread over the plains region was due largely to the acquisition of the horse, and, about the same time, of the gun. They were a restless, aggressive, and predatory people, and, excepting for the Atsina and Sarsi, who lived under their protection, were constantly at war with all their neighbors, the Cree, Assiniboin, Sioux, Crows, Flatheads, and Kutenai. While never regularly at war with the United States, their general attitude toward Americans in the early days was one of hostility, while maintaining a doubtful friendship with the Hudson’s Bay Co.

Siksika Culture

Their culture was that of the Plains tribes generally, although there is evidence of an earlier culture, approximately that of the Eastern timber tribes. The 3 main divisions seem to have been independent of each other, each having its own Sun dance, council, and elective head-chief, although the Blackfeet proper appear to have been the original nucleus. Each of the 3 was subdivided into a number of bands, of which Grinnell enumerates 45 in all. It has been said that these bands were gentes, but if so, their gentile character is no longer apparent. There is also a military and fraternal organization, similar to that existing in other Plains tribes, known among the Blackfeet as the Ikunuhkahtsi, or All Comrades, and consisting formerly, according to Grinnell, of at least 12 orders or societies, most of which are now extinct. They have a great number of dances – religious, war, and social besides secret societies for various purposes, together with many “sacred bundles,” around each of which centers a ritual. Practically every adult has also his personal medicine. Both sexes may be members of some societies. Their principal deities are the Sun, and a supernatural being known as Napi, ‘Old Man’, who may be an incarnation of the same idea. The dead are usually deposited in trees or sometimes laid away in tipis erected for the purpose on prominent hills.

As usual, many of the early estimates of Blackfoot population are plainly unreliable. The best appears to be that of Mackenzie, who estimated them about 1790 at 2,250 to 2,500 warriors, or perhaps 9,000 souls. In 1780-81, in 1837-38, in 1845, in 1857-58, and in 1869 they suffered great losses by smallpox. In 1864 they were reduced by measles, and in 1883-84 some 600 of those in Montana died of sheer starvation in consequence of the sudden extinction of the buffalo coincident with a reduction of rations. The official Indian report for 1858 gave them 7,300 souls, but another estimate, quoted by Hayden as having been made “under the most favorable circumstances” about the same time, gives them 2,400 warriors and 6,720 souls. In 1909 they were officially reported to number in all 4,635, viz: Blackfoot agency, Alberta, 795; Blood agency, Alberta, 1,174; Piegan agency, Alberta, 471 ; Blackfoot agency (Piegan) , Montana, 2,195.

Alternate Spellings

  • Ah-hi´-tä-pe. Morgan, Consang. and Affin., 289, 1871 (former name for themselves; translation, ‘blood people’).
  • Ayatchinini. Baraga. Eng.-Otch. Dict., 29, 1878 (Chippewa name).
  • Ayâtchiyiniw. Lacombe, Dict. Langue Cris, 325, 1864 (‘stranger’, ‘alien’, ‘enemy’: Cree name for Siksika, Bloods, and Piegan).
  • Beaux Hommes. Dobbs, Hudson Bay, 35, 1744.
  • Blackfeet. Writer of 1786 in Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 1st s., III, 24, 1794.
  • Blackfoot. Lewis and Clark, Discov., 58, 1806.
  • Carmeneh. Crow MS. vocab., B. A. E. (Crow name).
  • Choch-Katit. Maximilian, Trav., II, 247, 1841 (Arikara name).
  • Chokitapia. L’Heureux in Jour. Anthr. Inst., G. B., 162, Nov. 1885.
  • Cuskœtehwaw-thesseetuck. Franklin, Journ. Polar Sea, 97, 1824.
  • E-chi²p-e¹-ta¹. Long, Exped. Rocky Mts., II, LXXIX, 1823 (Crow name).
  • Erchipeetay. Gallatin in Trans. Am. Antiq. Soc., II, 377, 1836(Crow name).
  • High-minded people -Morgan, Consang. and Affin., 289, 1871
  • Ish-te-pit´-e Hayden, Ethnog. and Philol. Mo. Val., 402, 1862 (Crow name).
  • Issi-Chupicha. Maxmillian, Trav., II, 234, 1841 (Hidatsa name; French form)
  • Issi-Schüpischa., Ibid. (Hidatsa name; German form)
  • Itsisihisa.-Matthews, Hidatsa Indians, 217, 1877 (Hidatsa name)
  • Ĭ tsi i pí ṡa.- Ibid., 162 (Hidatsa name: black feet, from sipisa black, and itri foot).
  • It-ze¹-su³-pe¹-sha¹.-Long, Exped. Rocky Mts., II, LXXXIV, 1823 (Hidatsa name)
  • Katce. Wilson, Report on Northwest Tribes to Brit., A. A. S., 11, 1888 (Sarsi name).
  • Ka-wi´-na-han. Hayden, Ethnog. and Philol. Mo. Val., 326, 1862 (black people Arapaho name) .
  • Makadewana-ssidok.-Gatschet, Ojibwa MS., B. A. E., 1882 (Chippewa name).
  • Mämakatä´wana-si´tä´-ak. Gatschet, Fox MS., B. A. E., 1882 (Fox name).
  • Mkatewetitéta. Gatschet, Shawnee MS., B. A. E., 1879 (Shawnee name; pl. Mkatewetitetchki) .
  • Mukkudda Ozitunnug. Tanner, Narr., 316, 1830 (Ottawa name).
  • Netsepoyè. Hale in Rep. Brit. A. A. S., 1885, 707, 1886 (people who speak one language -name sometimes used by the confederacy).
  • Pahkee. Lewis and Clark, Exped., I, 408, 1814 (Shoshoni name).
  • Paík. Gebow, Snake Vocab., 7 1868.
  • Par´-keeh. Stuart, Montana: As It Is, 23, 1865.
  • Patas-negras. Barriero, Ojeadasobre Nuevo Mexico, app., 10, 1832.
  • Pawkees. Lewis and Clark, Exped., I, 418, 1814.
  • Peíki. Gebow, Snake Vocab., 7, 1868.
  • Pieds-noirs. De Smet, Miss., 84 1844.
  • Pike. Gebow, Snake Vocab., 7, 1868 (Shoshoni name).
  • Po´-o-mas. Hayden, Ethnog and Philol. Mo. Val., 290, 1862 (blankets whitened with earth: Cheyenne name).
  • Sāhā´ntlā. A. F. Chamberlain, inf n, 1903 (bad people: Kutenai name).
  • Sâketûpiks. McLean, Inds., 130, 1889.
  • Sasitka. Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, VI, 688, 1857.
  • Sat-sia-qua. Robinson, Gt. Fur Land, 187, 1879.
  • Satsi-kaa. Hale, Ethnol. and Philol., 219, 1846.
  • Saw-ketakix. Hale in Rep. Brit. A. A. S. 1885, 707, 1886 (men of the plains: name sometimes used by themselves).
  • Saxœ-kœ-koon. Franklin, Journ. Polar Sea, 97, 1824
  • S’chkoé. Mengarini, Kalispelm Dict., B. A. E., 1877 (Kalispel name; abbreviated form).
  • S’chkoéishin. Ibid., (Kalispel name: from koài ‘black’).
  • Schwarzfüssige, Güssefeld, map, 1797.
  • Seksekai. Maximiaan, Trav. ,215,1843.
  • Sica be. Dorsey, Kansas MS. vocab., B. A. E., 1882 (Kansa name).
  • Si-ha -sa-pa. Cook, Yankton MS. vocab., B. A. E., 1882 ( black feet : Yankton name).
  • Sikcitano. Can. Ind. AfL, 125, 1902.
  • Siksekai. Maximilian, Trav., 245, 1843.
  • Sik-si-ka . Hayden, Ethnog. and Philol. Mo. Val., 264, 1862.
  • Siksikai. Maximilian (1839) quoted by Hayden, ibid., 256.
  • Sikskékuanak. Hale, Ethnol. and Philol., 219, 1816.
  • Sitkeas. Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, III, 252, 1853.
  • Six-he-kie-koon. Henry, MS. vocab., 1808.
  • Sixikau´a. Tims, Blackfoot Gram. and Dict., 112, 1889.
  • Skuäíshĕni. Gatschet, Okinagan MS., B. A. E., 1883 (black foot: Salish name).
  • Stχuaíχn. Ibid., (black: Okinagan name).
  • Toñkoñko. Mooney in 17th Rep. B. A. E., I, 426, 1898 (black legs: Kiowa name).
  • Tuhu´vti-ómokat. Gatschet, Comanche MS., B. A. E., 1884 (Comanche name, from tuhúvti ‘black’).
  • Wateni’hte. Gatschet, Arapaho MS., B. A. E., 1882 (Arapaho name).
  • Yatcheé-thinyoowuc. Richardson quoted by Franklin, Journ. Polar Sea, 96, 1824 (‘strangers’: Cree name for several tribes, including the Siksika).

For Further Study

  • Grinnell, Blackfoot Lodge Tales 1892;
  • Hayden, Ethnog. and Philol. Mo. Val., 1862;
  • Schultz, My Life as an Indian, 1907;
  • Wissler in Ontario Archseol. Rep. for 1905, 1906,
  • Wissler in Anthr. Pap. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., v, pt. 1, 1910.


  1. Mackenzie, Voy., LXX-LXXI, 1801[]

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Access Genealogy

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Scroll to Top