In summer and fall 2016, we conducted an assessment of historic and contemporary ecological knowledge and traditional foods on the Blackfeet Reservation in Northern Montana. This type of community assessment has never been done on the Blackfeet Reservation. With the final report and pamphlet, which are accessible to the public online and at Blackfeet community locations, we hope to revitalize interest and use of in traditional ecological food knowledge among the Blackfeet people.
Unfortunately, many of the people who know and continue to use this traditional knowledge – elders – are passing away. Thus, recording and disseminating this knowledge to the next generation is more vital now than ever. Additionally, a traditional foods assessment will contribute to overall public health by improving knowledge, and potentially use of, traditional foods in the community. We hope this will improve the health of the community in two ways – by influencing the personal health decisions of people and educating them on how to use traditional food sources, as well as the “community health” by revitalizing Blackfeet gathering and food knowledge.
Our title – Ahwahsiin – means “the land” or “where we get our food” in Blackfeet. With a growing number of environmental issues related to natural resource development on reservation lands and climate change globally, it is no surprise that tribal communities in Montana – and their people’s vast ecological knowledge – is in danger. Should this vanish, humankind may lose priceless knowledge about the ancient human relationship with nature.
This project was funded by a generous grant from the First Nations Development Institute.