The Blackfeet Reservation was established through treaties — Lame Bull Treaty of 1855, and two unratified in 1865 and 1868– and the 1896 Agreement 29 Stat 353 made with the United States Government. The main purpose for these agreements were to legitimate land cessions to the United States in exchange for rations, protection, education, and other services guaranteed to the Blackfeet People. The United States Government traded services for the immense land mass of the Blackfeet People setting up a reservation that is now located in northern Montana from the Medicine Line (Canadian Border) along the Glacier National Park.was the traditional range for massive herds of buffalo. About 86 percent of the residents of the reservation are Native Americans. It has been greatly reduced in size from the historical dimensions but is still the 13th largest reservation in the U.S. at approximately 1.5 million acres in size.
The Blackfeet People were historically hunting and gathering society. They followed the buffalo and moved camp seasonally. The area of Glacier National Park was a vital part of Blackfeet survival and culture; therefore in the 1896 Agreement with the Indians of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana (29 Stat. 353) the tribe reserved rights within the ceded strip. The Blackfeet did not relinquish any claims to resource utilization. The bands gathered many plants and herbs for food and medicinal purposes. THey hunted the big game like deer, elk, moose, beaver, and other animals for food and ceremonial purposes. The lakes and rivers provided water to the people along with the connection to the oral history of Blackfeet culture. The Blackfeet People still are tied to the land today for survival and cultural purposes
The Blackfoot Confederacy consisted of four bands: From North to South are the Siksika, or Blackfoot; the Kanai, or Blood; The Apa’tosee or Northern Pikuni; Amskapi Pikuni, whom are the southernmost of the Blackfeet Nation.
Recent years have brought changes to Browning. A modern hospital sits to the north overlooking town. On the south end of town is Blackfeet Community College with a campus of 13 buildings. The proximity to Glacier National Park has created a tourist industry and a number of lodging options are available in or near Browning including the opportunity to stay in a tipi at Lodgepole Gallery and Tipi Village. Glacier Peaks Casino is adjacent to Holiday Inn Express on the western edge of town, further enhancing the tourism industry. Good highway access from all four directions makes Browning very accessible and Amtrak’s Empire Builder train passes through as well.
The North American Indian Days celebrate annually within the first 2 weeks of July. It’s a spectacular event for the Blackfeet Nation. 1500 to 2000 dancers from all over the United States travel to display their talent. Dozens of tipis are erected adjacent to the powwow grounds. Numerous activities and rodeo are scheduled throughout the week. A horse parade, through town prior to the powwow on Saturday morning, demonstrates the beauty and heritage of the community and family.