Native American Culture/Blackfoot Religion


Hello Mr. Sutton,
  I was just wondering if you could answer my question. I was interested to know what animals were sacred to the blackfoot tribe and why they were sacred. As in their meanings to the people and culture. I canít seem to find out why they were sacred anywhere. Thank you so much!

Andrea, I won't be able to give you a definitive answer in pure terms of Blackfoot belief structure, but I can cast some light on general religious feeling throughout the Northern Plains. First tenet is that  All Life Is Sacred. All of Creation is an embodiment of the Creator, and a person should seek to express their thanks for life at every step they take. If it is necessary to take a life, to eat, or to protect one's self, clan or family, it should be done reverently and never carelessly. In addition every Nation is divided into clans, each of which have blood relations connecting their members and also affinity to certain animals' spirits. Maybe their clan have been helped or protected by wisdom coming from these specific animal spirits in dreams or in visions. IN any case, those animals are given special status, and not molested or harmed. In many cases, they are predatory animals, but also some clans connect with animals like the turtle -- which is a protector of all creation, or the deer or buffalo, which are prey animals but also helpers who give life to the people. Each clan or in the case of special religious groups, the special, scared animal is different, but all remain sacred in the wheel of life and under the sky. For specific information connecting which animals with a specific clan, you'll need to speak with someone who was raised in that clan. They may not wish to share this wisdom with a non-Native person, as it is often considered weakening the strength of the wisdom if it is given away to the uninitiated. Hope this helps.

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Richard Sutton


As a direct reservation trader in all aspects of American Indian arts since 1985, I've answered questions regarding cultural property issues, origins of traditional crafts, materials and techniques, collecting, authenticity, symbols and, of course, repairs! We have operated a retail gallery since that time, bricks and mortar until 2007 and online since 1996. Our online operation closed in 2/2015, to allow me to finally write full-time. My writing site can be found at I'll be adding a book or two from our trader experiences under the pen name of W.T. Durand and the rest of my fiction is under my own name. We are not "New Age" practitioners of adopted American Indian religious ceremonies or combined philosophies. If you are seeking such knowledge for spiritual reasons, we will only provide answers that address factual information on these subjects. Unless one is raised in a traditional, American Indian family with language, culture and religious belief intact, we don't believe that simply applying the trappings or cultural property of a given traditional group will give a non-Indian (Native if you prefer)any insight other than the academic.


My primary focus is on Southwester American Indian Nations and their people, but I also have experience in Plains and Northeastern traditions, having engaged in active trade and retail since 1985 and study for most of my life. I am not claiming any expertise at all in the work, techniques, lifeways or crafts that are made by the Native People of Mexico. They are not the same, either linguistically or culturally but certainly their crafts deserve discussion and appraisal by those who are able to provide real information.

I was a guest on Fox Network "Lifestyles" program, during the 1990s, to discuss how to tell forgeries, and authenticating jewelry as Native American work. I have also written extensively for our website, and our Ebay Store.

UofO, 1970 active in the Authentic American Indian Arts business and direct Trader since 1985. Graphic Designer and published novelist.

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