The reservation is home to the Blackfeet tribe and has a population of about 10,000, including 8,500 enrolled Blackfeet, several hundred Blackfeet descendants and Indians from other tribes, and a few hundred non-Indians. The Blackfeet Indians are commonly thought to have acquired their name because of the characteristic black color of their moccasins, painted or darkened with ashes. The Blackfeet Reservation is in northwestern Montana along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Its one-and-a-half million acres are bordered on the north by Canada and on the west by Glacier National Park.
A manufacturing plant on the reservation produces pencils, pens and markers. Several other businesses operate under Siyeh Development, Inc. (www.siyehdevelopment.com). Major uses of the land are ranching and farming. The principle crops are wheat, barley and hay.
There are eight major lakes and 175 miles of fishing streams. Tribal permits are required and guides are available through Fish, Wildlife & Parks. The tribe operates four campgrounds.
The Blackfeet originally lived here and are the only indigenous tribe to this area. After the arrival of the Europeans, the Blackfeet fiercely protected the region and territory from the Saskatchewan River to the north and the Great Salt Lake area to the south. Before they had the horse, Blackfeet drove buffalo over the pishkin for harvesting. Blackfeet typically traveled in bands of 20 to 30 people, which seemed to be the most effective number for buffalo hunting. However, the tribes would come together for various ceremonies and rituals, like the Sun Dance, Medicine Lodge, and for trade. The Blackfeet became excellent horseman and hunters. They expanded their territory, and resisted intrusion by the white man until the late 19th century. By the winter of 1882 the buffalo had almost disappeared and the tribe was driven on to an ever shrinking reservation. With no meat the Blackfeet were on the brink of starvation. The Government tried to change the nomadic hunters into farmers but were largely unsuccessful. In 1895, the tribe sold what is now Glacier National Park to the government for mineral exploration.