Hand color tinted photo of Bear Bull a Blackfeet Niitsítapi Native American Indian, 1926
The Blackfoot Confederacy or Niitsítapi (meaning “original people”; c.f. Ojibwe: Anishinaabeg and Quinnipiac: Eansketambawg) is the collective name of three First Nations in Alberta and one Native American tribe in Montana.
The Blackfoot Confederacy consists of the North Peigan (Aapátohsipikáni), the Blackfeet or South Piegan (Aamsskáápipikani), the Kainai Nation (Káínaa: “Blood”), and the Siksika Nation (“Blackfoot”) or more correctly Siksikáwa (“Blackfoot people”). The South Peigan are located in Montana, and the other three are located in Alberta. Together they call themselves the Niitsítapi (the “Original People”). These groups shared a common language and culture, had treaties of mutual defense, and freely intermarried.
Blackfoot elders wore their long hair in a tradional arrangement, twisting it into a coil projection 7 or 8 inches from the forehead and smearing it with red earth. There were 11 Blackfoot military societies, progressing in order from the Mosquitoes to the Bulls. Traditionally, a man spent about 4 years in each society, then sold his membership to a younger man and bought one from an older man in the next society.