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No one can really understand or appreciate the history of the lands that are now the United States (and Canada) without understanding the histories and traditions of the Native Americans. Today there are many reservations across the United States (and Canada), and the largest of these is the Najavo Nation - home to some of the most iconic landscapes of the Southwest.

Many of the Indian reservations are not really open for tourism, but a few are. The Blackfeet Nation in Montana, just next to Glacier National Park, is one that is tourist friendly. It is a reservation that combines history, culture, and eye-watering landscapes into one experience. It is a great place to learn the tale of American history from the point of view often forgotten.

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The Blackfeet Nation - The Large Montana Reservation Open To Visitors

Next time one is planning to go to the Glacier National Park - take a side trip to the Blackfeet Nation (officially called the Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation of Montana). Most of the tribal members belong to the Piegan Blackfeet band of the larger Blackfoot Confederacy (the confederacy extends into Canada).

  • Location: East Of Glacier National Park, Montana
  • Size: 3,000 Sq Miles or 7,800 km2
  • Population: Approx. 11,000

The reservation is large, spending 3,000 square miles. While it may not look large in the context of Montana, it is much larger than the state of Delaware. It is located along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and borders Glacier National Park to the west and Canada to the north.

According to the Governor's Office of Indian Affairs, the name is thought to have come from the "characteristic black color of their moccasins, painted or darkened with ashes." The tribe actually calls themselves "Niitsitapi" (pronounced nee-itsee-TAH-peh), meaning "the real people."

Related: Visiting The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, The Site Of Custer's Last Stand

What To See & Do In The Blackfeet Nation

Visitors can enjoy the Blackfeet Nation in both summer and winter. Activities include hiking, camping, boating, fishing, hunting, and more - although tribal permits may be required.

Places to visit include:

  • The Blackfeet Heritage Center
  • Glacier Peaks Casino
  • Pikuni Gift Shop
  • Museum of the Plains Indians
  • The Blackfeet Trail Tour (Defined By Historic Roadside Markers)

Plan one's visits around the annual North American Indian Days celebration to gain a unique glimpse of native culture. It is held in Browning (the headquarters of the reservation) on the second weekend of July. Another time to come is the Heart Butte Indian Days on the second weekend of August.

The Museum Of The Plains Indians

The Museum of the Plains Indians is one of the main attractions of the reservation and one of the best places to learn about the history of the Native Americans of the Great Plains. The museum is located in the tribal headquarters of Browning.

It was founded in 1941 and focuses on the art, historical clothing, horse gear, weapons, and other artifacts of the Northern Tribal Plains people. Their exhibits rotate seasonally.

The museum represents more than just the Blackfeet; it also represents the Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, Crow, Arapaho, Shoshone, Assiniboine, Flathead, Cree, Chippewa, and the Nez Perce.

  • Photography: Forbidden In The Museum

Summer Hours:

  • Open: Tuesday through Saturday, 10.00 am to 4.30 pm
  • Closed: Sunday and Monday

Admission:

  • Adult: $6.00
  • Child: $2.00 (Aged 6-16)

The Museum of the Plains Indian is one of the great hidden gems to learn about the culture and history of the tribes that roamed the Great Plains and their culture.

Related: Cherokee Nation: What You'll Learn At Oconaluftee Village

Blackfeet Culture Camp

Another of the attractions on the reservation is the Blackfeet Culture Camp. It is tucked in the breathtaking foothills of the Rocky Mountains near Browning.

Visitors should also visit their Native American Art Galley and see its displays of contemporary and traditional Blackfeet fine art.

Bring Blackfoot Indian history alive with their Blackfeet history tour. On tour, visitors visit buffalo jump sites, pow wows, tipi rings, and the Museum of the Plains Indian.

Horseback Riding:

  • Half Day: $125 Per Person
  • Full Day: $195 Per Person

Other activities offered are horseback riding, hiking, fishing, listening to stories from Native American Tribes, and more.

  • Camp: Stay In A Traditional Teepee

The Blackfeet Culture Camp is, well, a camp. They have a number of teepees and other accommodation to stay at. See their price list for more information about staying.