Language is Important?
Amskapi Pikuni or Southern Piegan, referred to today as the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana, have been where we are. Blackfeet
ancestral territory extends along the east side of the Rocky Mountains
from the Yellowstone river in southern Montana, north to the North
Saskatchewan river in Canada.
and gatherers, both pedestrian and equestrian, we repeatedly
traced familiar orbits, accumulated immense amounts of geographical,
natural, and cultural knowledge that we encoded in the names we
attached to particular places. After generations the landscape
filled up with names, stories, songs. The landscape itself became
a cultural text as to how the Blackfeet relayed information regarding
travel, natural resources, creation and moral direction.
in place, at home, the Blackfeet stayed put like few others. We
have not moved. We have not experienced migration. Because we
stayed put, we became intimate with our lands and the identity
of our places became our own replete with plants, animals, the elements,
and the supernatural.
places, places and stories rendered both landscape and cultural
identity intelligible in an anchored, non-abstract way. Both landscape
and cultural identity could be learned through the names the Niitsitapi,
the original people have given in our own, original language.
Here is power.
Blackfeet language is threatened. Piegan Institute is working
to save the Blackfeet language from extinction.