Saturday, October 26, 2019


By Caroline Clemmons

The name Blackfoot Indians fascinated me since the first time I heard it. Until recently, I didn’t investigate this tribe. I felt certain this group of people didn’t really have black feet, but I did wonder why they were labeled Blackfoot. Their custom of dying their moccasins black gained them their name.

Blackfoot with horses

In the past few years I’ve set several books in Montana. I set out to learn more about the indigenous people there. Although there were Blackfoot, Crow, Sioux and smaller tribes in Montana, the area in which my latest book is set is where the Blackfoot live.

Blackfoot man wearing buffalo robe

The Blackfoot/Blackfeet are an Algonquian people who were migratory plains hunter-gatherers from the Great Lakes region until they acquired horses and rifles in the 1700s. They then became hunters and raiders and migrated to the Northwestern United States, specifically Montana and Idaho as well as Alberta Canada. They were notably defensive of their territory. Although either spelling is acceptable, Blackfoot is the original name.

Six chiefs of Blackfoot Confederacy
Note the way they wear feathers

Three groups make up the Blackfoot Confederacy. The Blackfeet (Siksika), the Blood (Kainai, Kainah), and the Piegan (Piikani, Pigunni). The Blackfoot Confederacy in the United States and Canada  were forced to divide their traditional homeland in the nineteenth century according to national borders. They were forced to sign treaties with one of the two countries and settle in reservations on one side of the border or the other. They were then enrolled in one of the two government bodies. The two successor groups are the Blackfeet Nation, a federally-recognized tribe in Montana, and the Piikani Nation, a recognized Indian band in Alberta, Canada.

Blackfoot girl teen

In my book, MELODY, book 7 of the Angel Creek Christmas Brides, the heroine and hero rescue an injured Blackfoot teen and take her to their home to recover. That meant I had to know what she would have worn. Blackfoot women wore long deerskin dresses. The photo of a teen shows her with a less elaborate style of dress than a woman would have worn. Men wore buckskin tunics and breechcloths with leggings. Blackfoot dresses and war shirts were fringed and often decorated with porcupine quills, beads, and elk teeth. Both Blackfoot women and men wore moccasins. In winter they wore buffalo-hide robes.

Burning sweet grass in the sweat lodge

 They used a sweat lodge for medical and purifying reasons. In the sweat lodge, they burned sweet grass. I had thought this was just nice grass. No, sweet grass is a plant they used for the scent and the idea that it purified the air.  

They used red paint on their
face for war. This is how I
described the girl's father in
my book

Blackfoot raised tobacco. Tobacco, Nicotiana rustica, was originally used primarily by eastern tribes, but Blackfoot often mixed it with other herbs, barks, and plant matter, in a preparation commonly known as kinnikinnick. They sometimes used kinnikinnick in a poultice to treat a medical condition.

There are many interesting facts about this group of people. I hope I’ve whetted your interest and you’ll dig into researching them. You can learn a little more from reading MELODY, now on pre-order for a November 8 release from Amazon. The Universal buy link is htpp://

The Angel Creek Christmas Bride Series for 2019 begins releasing November 1 with CAROLINE by Lily Graison. Releases will be each week. All six are available for pre-order. Covers are identical except for the author's name and the book's title.


  1. Wow, this is so very interesting, Thank you so much for sharing this information, you make me want to read more History, because you make it very interesting and fun, Thank you for teaching me something and helping me like History. Your book sounds like a very good read . God Bless you.

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