The Blackfoot language is spoken on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, USA by some members of the Blackfeet Nation and on three reserves in Canada. The Blackfoot of Canada and the Blackfeet of the United States are actually just one tribe with three divisions. Blackfoot is the Canadian (and original) spelling and Blackfeet is the US spelling. That is the only difference. When the US - Canadian border was drawn, it cut through the center of this tribe.
Canadian Piegans have treaty rights to freely cross the US - Canadian border and retain dual citizenship in both countries, while the Piegans on the US side of the border do not, and only have citizenship in the United States.
The border between the US and Canada was called the "medicine line" by the Blackfoot, because for some reason unknown and magical to them, the Canadian Mounties would stop chasing them when they crossed the line heading south with contraband whiskey. Likewise, the Americans would stop the chase when they ran to the north.
Alternate Names: Blackfeet, Pied Noir, Pikanii
Dialects: Blood (Kainaa), Piegan (Peigan), Siksika - The Piegan dialect is the primary dialect spoken on the Blackfeet Reservation in the US. Some Blackfeet people also speak Plains Cree.
Status: This is a Level 7 endangered living language that is shifting towards extinction. A living language still has speakers who learned the language as their first language.
There are about 100 fluent Piegan speakers on the Blackfeet Reservation, mainly adults, out of a tribal population of about 16,000. However, in Canada,
Younger speakers prefer to use English as their primary language, although there is an immersion school on the Blackfeet Reservation that is hoping to restore the language to younger speakers in the future.
Today, the Blackfeet language is used primarily during traditional ceremonies.
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