Blackfoot Tribe Religion: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

In this lesson, you'll learn about the religious beliefs of the Blackfoot tribe of Native Americans. Read on to find out about how their world was created, the Sun Dance ritual, and medicine bundles.

The Blackfoot Tribe

The Blackfoot Tribe is actually four different groups of Native Americans. Three of the groups, the Siksika, Kanai, and Northern Pikuni live in Canada. The fourth group, the Amskapi Pikuni, live on a reservation in Montana; this group is also called the Blackfeet Nation.

Religion as a Way of Life

When you think of religion, you may think of going to a church, synagogue, or mosque to pray. The Blackfoot don't look at religion the same way that non-Native Americans do. To the Blackfoot, their religion was actually part of their everyday lives, and influenced everything they did.

Like many Native American tribes, the Blackfoot believed that everything has a spirit, including animals, plants, trees, stars, and the moon. The Sun was very important.

Na'pi and the Creation of the World

The Blackfoot believed that Na'pi, also called The Old Man, was the creator of the world, people, and of their tribe. He held all the magic and power in the world. The Old Man could be helpful to the Blackfoot, or he might play tricks on them to teach them a lesson.

Na'pi is also part of the Blackfoot creation myth, a story of how the world was first made. They believed that the world was once covered with water, so Na'pi sent many different animals down to the bottom of the water to get mud. But it was so deep that all the animals were having a hard time. Finally, one animal (some stories say a muskrat and others say a duck), brought a lump of mud up and Na'pi used it to create humans and the earth.

Importance of the Sun

The Sun was often considered to be the same being as the creator of the world, Na'pi. The Blackfoot thought that all their good fortune was created by the Sun, so they held a Sun Dance every summer to give thanks to him.

Blackfoot Medicine Lodges

The Sun Dance was the most important ritual of the Blackfoot. A ritual is a ceremony that must be done in a certain way. To celebrate the Sun Dance, the Blackfoot built a special medicine lodge, or building, which had a pole in the middle. They believed that the pole would connect the earth with the powers in the sky.

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