This book spans a century in the history of the Blackfoot First Nations of present-day Montana and Alberta. It maps out specific ways in which Blackfoot culture persisted amid the drastic transformations of colonisation, with its concomitant forced assimilation in both Canada and the United States. It portrays the strategies and tactics adopted by the Blackfoot in order to navigate political, cultural and social change during the hard transition from traditional life-ways to life on reserves and reservations. Cultural continuity is the thread that binds the four case studies presented, encompassing Blackfoot sacred beliefs and ritual; dress practices; the transmission of knowledge; and the relationship between oral stories and contemporary fiction. Blackfoot voices emerge forcefully from the extensive array of primary and secondary sources consulted, resulting in an inclusive history wherein Blackfoot and non-Blackfoot scholarship enter into dialogue. Blanca Tovias combines historical research with literary criticism, a strategy that is justified by the interrelationship between Blackfoot history and the stories from their oral tradition.
Chapters devoted to examining cultural continuity discuss the ways in which oral stories continue to inspire contemporary Native American fiction. This interdisciplinary study is a celebration of Blackfoot culture and knowledge that seeks to revalourise the past by documenting Blackfoot resistance and persistence across a wide spectrum of cultural practice. The volume is essential reading for all scholars working in the fields of Native American studies, colonial and postcolonial history, ethnology and literature.
Blanca Tovias received her PhD in 2007 from the University of New South Wales. Her dissertation on the Blackfoot of Canada and the USA earned her the Bickerton History Prize, and the Doctoral Thesis Prize. She has co-edited two anthologies on the history of Mesoamerica and the Andes, and authored several book chapters. Her current research focuses on women of the Great Plains.