Blackfoot Indian Crafts

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The bison was a prominant theme in Blackfoot crafts.

The Blackfoot Indians settled in the northern Plains area, mostly in Idaho, Montana and Alberta, Canada. They were the largest tribe in Montana. The Blackfoot Indians were a nomadic tribe that followed the buffalo. Their art and crafts talent are demonstrated in their quill work, jewelry, beading, carvings, bronze work, dolls and hides among other things. Many Blackfoot Indians keep the tribe's tradition alive by creating the same crafts that have been passed down through generations.



Beading is among one of the most common examples of craftsmanship among the Blackfoot Indians. They used black, orange, white, green, blue and red beads to adorn their saddle pads, moccasins, clothing, headdresses and jewelry. Women worked many hours on one item so that it would be covered in small beads. Now Blackfoot beaded items are an expensive commodity.


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Dolls made by a Blackfoot Indian are elaborate works of art. Most of the dolls wear hides, and beading is prominent in their work. The dolls usually wear authentic Blackfoot garb and often come with details such as purses and babies. At one time the dolls were given to children to play with. As of 2010, the dolls are sold for up to $600 and are generally used as a collection piece.



Hides and leather are a large theme among the Blackfoot, since the bison played a major role in their survival. Blankets, rugs, clothing, moccasins and battle dress are among the items that this group of people produced from the bison. The men would wear warrior shirts, which were thick and armor like, made with hides and used to protect the warriors in battle.



The Blackfoot pottery's recurring theme is the people of the plains and their most important resource: the bison. They hand-form pots, flasks, vases, and plates in addition to figurines and masks. These pottery items are crafted by hand, using the coil and pinch-pot techniques, and then left to harden in a shallow hole in the ground. Because the Blackfoot were nomadic, they didn't make much pottery, as this would prove cumbersome.



Blackfoot people wove mostly baskets that were used to carry things in. These were called burden baskets, worn around the neck or over the shoulder. They were especially helpful when the tribe migrated or when the women were gathering wood or food.



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