The Blackfoot Nation Essay

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Across Canada and the United States there are many First Nations languages which are a part of the Algonquian language family, all of which with varying states of health. Although these languages share many characteristics of the Algonquian language family, the cultures, systems of beliefs, and geographic location of their respective Nations differentiate them. In being shaped by the landscape, cultures, and spirituality of the First Nations, the language brings the speakers closer to their land and traditions while reaffirming their identity as First Peoples. Using the Blackfoot Nation to further explore this concept, this paper will show that while language threads together First Nations culture, spirituality,…show more content…
For example the Kainai, which means “many leaders”, did not choose to be referred to as the Blood Nation (Bastien 2004, 10). There are many explanations as to how the Kanai became widely referred to as the Blood Peoples. One explanation is that it comes from a Cree term used to describe the Kanai by the red paint, which looks like blood, that is used in ceremony to paint their face and hands red. A second explanation is there was a mistranslation of a term used to describe the Kanai as wearers of white weasel pelts, to wearers of blood (Bastien 2004, 10). This mistranslation comes from the similarities of the words for blood and the term used to describe the changing of the white weasel pelts to white with the seasons (Bastien 2004, 10). In this case, the Kanai, through the use of their language are asserting their preference to be known as the “many chiefs,” over the Blood Peoples or the “wearers of blood.” Though today, the Blackfoot territory is defined by reserve/reservation boundaries and divided by the United States-Canadian border, their homeland, Nitawahsinnanni (“our land”), continues to be defined by topographical features using their language (The Blackfoot Gallery Committee, 2013, 12). This traditional homeland spans from the North Saskatchewan River (Ponokasisahta, the Elk River) as far south as the Yellowstone River, Montana (Otahkoitahtayi) and from the Rocky Mountains as far East as the “Great Sand Hills
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