Located on the east side of Glacier National Park and a 90-minute drive from Kalispell is the Blackfeet Nation. Home to the Blackfeet Indian Tribe (Niisitapi), the reservation is 1.5 million acres and sits along the Backbone of the World – Glacier National Park. For thousands of years, the Blackfeet Tribe (as well as other tribes) has used the park for hunting, fishing, ceremonies and vision quests. Today, there are several areas in the park that are considered sacred to the tribe.
Known as the “warriors of the plains,” the Blackfeet Indians are thought to have acquired their name from the characteristic black color of their moccasins, which were painted or darkened with ash. Today approximately 10,000 enrolled members of the tribe live on the reservation. With vast landscapes that include rolling plains and the rugged Rocky Mountains, these lands and the Blackfeet people hold the keys to the past.
The Blackfeet Nation is home to ranching, farming and outdoor recreation, and it’s easy to soak up the history, culture and traditions of the tribe. Throughout the reservation, there are several points of interest for visitors to explore and learn more about the Blackfeet Nation and the Blackfeet people. Keep in mind that tribal permits are required for recreating, fishing and hiking on the Blackfeet Nation.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Museum of the Plains Indian
The museum exhibits the creative achievements of North American artists and craftspeople. A permanent exhibit displays artifacts of the Northern Plains Indians, and two special galleries feature changing presentations. The museum also has a gift shop.
Guided & Self-Guided Tours
The Blackfeet Nation has a variety of interpretive and educational tours. Cruise the Going-to-the-Sun Road with Glacier https://www.glaciersuntours.com/Sun Tours, where you can learn about the park from the perspective of the Blackfeet Nation. Set out on a horseback trail ride or hiking tour with Blackfeet Tours or take a cultural hike with Iron Shield Creative.
The Blackfeet Trail Tour is a self-guided route that meanders 70 miles through the Blackfeet Nation and includes 15 sites, each marked by roadside markers.
Blackfeet Heritage Center
The Blackfeet Heritage Center & Art Gallery has interesting exhibits, as well as a large variety of arts, crafts and jewelry, with work from 16 North American tribes and 500 artists.
Native America Speaks Program, Glacier National Park
The longest-running Indigenous speaker series in the National Park Service, the Native America Speaks Program is held in Glacier National Park during the summer season. As part of the program, Blackfeet, Salish, Kootenai and Pend d’Oreille tribal members share stories, histories and culture, which often include singing and storytelling.
Scenic Seasonal Drives
During spring, the east side of the Rockies is stunning, with snow-capped peaks, a deep blue sky, lush green landscapes, gushing waterfalls and rocking rivers. Soak it all in by driving U.S. Highway 2 from Kalispell to Browning. Along the way, you’ll follow the southern boundary of Glacier National Park.
Summer offers the most access to entry points and attractions on the Blackfeet Nation and in the park, including Two Medicine, St. Mary and Many Glacier. For an immersive look at North American tribal nations, attend North American Indian Days in Browning, held annually in July. Keep your eyes open for wildlife, including elk, moose, bears and bison.
Autumn brings a colorful tapestry of colors, including golds, yellows, oranges and reds to aspens, cottonwoods, maple trees and river bottoms. For some of the most stunning colors, visit Glacier National Park’s Two Medicine Valley, East Glacier Park and St. Mary. If you can, plan to visit the last two weeks of September to drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
How To Get There
From Kalispell, take U.S. Highway 2 along the southern border of Glacier National Park to East Glacier Park and Browning.