• The buffalo or bison, were the most important food for the Blackfoot people for many centuries. 


  • The Blackfoot ate a lot of buffalo meat because it was found all over the plains. The Blackfoot were not farmers.  The only thing that they would grow for themselves was tobacco for their religious ceremonies.  They did not have flour or grains to survive.  



  • The meat from the buffalo was used to make into pemmican.  Pemmican was made using large pieces of dried buffalo meat which was pounded into a "flour."   This "meat flour" was mixed with buffalo fat and dried or crushed berries. They needed the buffalo for almost all of their food.

Click below to see pictures of how pemmican is made.


And click here to see some pictures of Parkdale Elementary students making pemmican


Uses of the Buffalo

  • The Blackfoot ate almost every part of the buffalo,  including the tongue and marrow. They did not usually eat  smaller animals like birds and rodents but would if they were very hungry.


  • The Blackfoot used the buffalo for many things.  Visit this website to find out all of the amazing things that the Blackfoot used the buffalo for.



Hunting for Buffalo

  • The Blackfoot killed the buffalo in a very interesting way.  Together in small groups, Blackfoot men would chase the buffalo herds toward large cliffs.  Once the buffalo were scared, the buffalo would jump off the cliff in fright, falling to their death.  Visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump's website to find out more about this historical site in Fort Macleod, Alberta.  


Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre


  • The Blackfoot people's way of life changed a great deal when almost all of the buffalo were killed.  By 1881 the buffalo was near extinction. This was because the Europeans were over hunting the buffalo for their own uses.  The Europeans did not understand how important the buffalo was to the First Nations people.  They were even sending buffalo hides back to Europe. 


  • Sadly, when the food supply of the Blackfoot people began to disappear, they were forced to begin to live in the ways of the Europeans.


  • Because of the carelessness of the Europeans, some say there were only six pairs of buffalo left!  Thank goodness a rancher realized that he had the last buffalo and began breeding them.  Today, buffalo are found in ranches all over North America and have even been reintroduced in some national parks and reservations.


More about Buffalo!

Would you like to learn more about the buffalo?  Check out these websites to learn more!



Calgary Board of Education Home Page
All contents copyright 2003, C.B.E. All rights reserved.
Web Author: M. Speight

Last updated March 19, 2003

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