The Peigan are part of the Blackfoot Confederacy that includes the
Peigan, the Blackfoot and the Blood. The three tribes within a
larger confederacy of the Plains Indians share a common language
and culture. In their own language, the Blackfoot Confederacy
refers to themselves as Soyi-tapix, meaning the Prairie People.
Famous as horsemen and warriors, at the height of their power the
Blackfoot Confederacy commanded territory from the North
Saskatchewan River, south to the Missouri, and from the present
Alberta - Saskatchewan border to the Rocky Mountains. They are the
southernmost nation within the Blackfoot Confederacy. The Peigans,
in Canada, are referred to as the North Peigans while those in
Montana are known as the South Peigans. By themselves, the
Northern Peigans are the smallest Blackfoot tribe to sign a treaty
with the Canadian government, but together with their fellow
Peigans in Montana they form the largest tribe within the
Originally hunters of Buffalo, which was a staple of their diet, the Peigan's way of life changed
early on with the arrival of the Europeans. By 1880, after the signing of the treaty, the buffalo
had gone from their reserve, and instead, the Peigan people had begun to take up farming to live.
By the late 1890s any hope of farming the land had been abandoned. A drought and the general
conditions of the land did not lend to any kind of cultivation of the land. However, it was also
during this time that the Peigan communities were finding much success in their livestock,
particularly cattle. This created, in turn, work for other Peigan people as cutters, mending fences,
and cutting and selling hay. During this time, through all the dramatic changes going on within
the Peigan communities, the people still retained their language and cultural practices, including
the Sun Dance. As the years progressed the Peigans started to struggle. Disease from the new
Europeans, such as tuberculosis, and increased unemployment began to take their toll on the Peigan
After World War II, the improved healthcare for the community brought relief for the Peigan communities.
This, along with developments in the oil industry and similar industries in southern Alberta brought
about new opportunities for the Peigans. The Peigan people took advantage of the opportunity to become
formally educated, becoming nurse's aids, secretaries, and administrators. The Peigan people continued
to be a people of precedents. They were the first to demand a vote in the provincial elections, and
the first to assume administration over their own reserve. Through all these changes, they still
celebrated their own traditional cultures in such things as Indian Days and native crafts. Today the
Peigan Nation has developed many amenities to provide for the community such as a fire hall, a group
home, various recreational buildings, various public works and utility buildings, band offices, a
daycare, and schools. The Peigan Nation continues its involvement in livestock, with a cattle operation.
The Peigan Nation inhabits two Peigan reserves that cover approximately 112500 acres with road, rail,
and water accessibility.
This digital collection was
produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital
Collections initiative, Industry Canada.