The Blackfeet Nation
Montana’s Blackfeet Indian Reservation – Living Alongside the Backbone of the World
Located on the east side of Glacier National Park 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 because of the characteristic black color of their moccasins, painted or darkened with ashes. Today approximately 10,000 enrolled members of the tribe live on the reservation, while the vast landscapes hold the keys to the past and visitors can soak up the history, culture and traditions of the tribe.
Today, much of the landscapes are used for ranching and farming, as well as outdoor recreation. Tribal permits are required for recreating, fishing and hiking on the Blackfeet Nation. Throughout the reservation, there are several points of interest for visitors to explore and learn more about the Blackfeet Nation and the Blackfeet people.
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 includes a gift shop. 406-338-2230.
Glacier Sun Tours
Glacier Sun Tours offers Blackfeet interpretive tours through Glacier National Park on the Going-to-the-Sun Road and throughout Blackfeet Country. 406-732-9220. Glacier Sun Tours
Blackfeet Cultural History Tours
The history tour features half and full-day tours of the Blackfeet Nation with historic and cultural points of interest. 406-338-2787.
Blackfeet Heritage Center
The Blackfeet Heritage Center & Art Gallery offers a wide variety of arts, crafts and jewelry. 406-338-5661.
Blackfeet Trail Tour and Blackfeet Language Sign Tour
The original scenic “Blackfeet Trail Tour”, defined by its historic roadside markers, was laid out as a cooperative community effort by the Museum of the Plains Indian and the Browning Lions Club. The signs have been recently updated by the Blackfeet Planning and Development Department. 406-338-7181
Native American Speaks program, Glacier National Park
Each summer Blackfeet, Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d'Oreille tribal members share knowledge of their history and culture as part of the Native America Speaks program. This program began in 1982 and is the longest running indigenous speaker series in the National Park Service. The presentations provide opportunities for local tribal members to share their rich history and culture through singing, storytelling, presentations, and hands-on learning. Video recordings are also available.
Seasons You’ll Enjoy
Spring – soak it all in: the emerald green of the Rockies’ eastern front and snow-capped peaks, deep-blue sky, gushing waterfalls and tumultuous white water of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. Scenic Highway 2 to Browning follows the southern boundary of the park.
Summer - access to east side of GNP (Two Medicine, St. Mary, Many Glacier), North American Indian Days (second week of July). Wildlife viewing is never guaranteed but the open range of the Rocky Mountain front is frequented by elk, moose, bears and bison.
Fall colors – the golden blaze of the aspens, warm bronze of the cottonwoods and crimson of the Rocky Mountain Red Maple line the mountainsides and river bottoms. The Two Medicine Valley, East Glacier and St. Mary’s offer some of the best views of fall’s colors.
How To Get There
From Kalispell take US Highway 2 around the eastern border of Glacier National Park to Browning. Distance, approximately 99 miles one way.