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First Peoples, Two Countries

Local Voices
Blackfoot Arts & Heritage Festival – Courtesy Parks Canada

Despite an international line and national policies that divided families and toppled traditional governance, the First peoples of the Crown of the Continent have maintained cultural ties, languages, and inter-tribal cooperation across borders. Historically, tribal territories shifted and overlapped, but at European contact the region was dominated by three linguistic groups. Long the great warriors of the eastern slopes, the Blackfoot Confederacy includes the Piikani, Siksika, and Blood/Kainai Nations in Alberta and the Blackfeet Nation in Montana. On the west side are the mountain bands of the Ktunaxa Nation in British Columbia and the Ksanka/Kootenai in Montana. Farther south, the Interior Salish people, including the Bitterroot Salish and Pend d’Oreille, are closely related to other Salish-speaking nations in British Columbia, Washington, and Idaho. All of these nations and tribes invite visitors to their powwows, museums, and interpretive centers.