Blackfoot Syllabary [NEW]

The Niitsitapi, also known as the Blackfoot or Blackfeet Indians, traditionally lived on the Great Plains in land now identified as Montana, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Only one of the Niitsitapi tribes are called Blackfoot or Siksika, the name apparently deriving from the color of the soles of their moccasins. In 2016 there were about 4,900 speakers of the Blackfoot language.

A syllabary for the Blackfoot language, based on James Evans’ syllabary but more Latinate in form, was devised by John William Tims, an Anglican missionary from England who spent 12 years from 1883 to 1895 among the Blackfoot people in the North-West Territories of Canada (now Alberta). Tims used his Blackfoot syllabary to produce a dictionary of the Blackfoot language and translations of a number a biblical texts.

Since the late 20th century efforts have been made to revitalize the Blackfoot language. Blackfoot is taught in the Blackfoot Nations, and there is a Blackfeet Community College in Montana. There are also some programs in Blackfoot on a radio station in Browning, Montana. Reportedly, the syllabary is occasionally also taught.

This entry is what Wikipedia calls a “stub”–that is, we know very little, we wish we knew more, and we’d love to hear from anyone who can add to our miserable little fund of knowledge.

48.5569° N, 113.0134° W