The Blackfeet, an Indian tribe with 16,000 registered members, are the largest Indian tribe in Montana. The Blackfeet Reservation covers an area of 3,000 square miles in the northwestern part of the state. The biggest annual Blackfeet festival is called North American Indian Days. The Heart Butte Society Celebration is a community celebration.
The name Blackfeet is thought to have originated with the black moccasins the Indians once wore, according to EveryCulture.com. The Blackfeet, which actually include four Plains tribes called the North Blackfeet, the Blood, the North Piegan and the South Piegan, once rode horses and depended on the buffalo for their survival. The Blackfeet traditionally held dances in the summer that celebrated war and hunting.
North American Indian Days
North American Indian Days is held in the city of Browning, Montana. According to the Town of Browning, the festival occurs during the second week of July and lasts for four days. Dance contests with chanting, drumming and dancers in traditional clothing are a major part of the festival. Tipis are erected, and other events include a race that begins in City Park, a horseshoe tournament and food and crafts sales.
Heart Butte Society Celebration
The annual Heart Butte Society Celebration is also a four-day festival that is held during the second week of August in the traditional community of Heart Butte, which is 26 miles south of Browning. The festival was established in 1992 and begins with an opening ceremony and blessing. Other events are a walk/run, the Pet and Doll Parade, talent show, barbecue and games. Heart Butte is one of the oldest communities on the reservation.
The Blackfeet tribe is one of six tribes in the United States that still lives on their original land, according to BlackfeetNation.com. The annual Blackfeet festivals are a way for the Indians to preserve traditional practices and a welcome opportunity for socializing for resident Blackfeet as well as those who have moved away from the area. Many tourists who want a glimpse of Blackfeet culture also visit the area, especially during North American Indian Days.
Lexa W. Lee is a New Orleans-based writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has contributed to "Central Nervous System News" and the "Journal of Naturopathic Medicine," as well as several online publications. Lee holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Reed College, a naturopathic medical degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and served as a postdoctoral researcher in immunology.