Published on December 7, 2012 by Amy
There are many myths surrounding the Blackfoot Native Americans. The Blackfeet inhabit areas of Alberta, Canada, and areas of Montana. These stories, myths, origins, and legends play a big role in their everyday life, such as their religion, their history, and their beliefs. Only the elders of the Blackfoot tribes are allowed to tell the tales. These myths are sometimes hard to get a hold of because the elders of the tribes are often reluctant to tell them to strangers who are not of the tribe. People such as George B. Grinnell, John Maclean, D.C. Duvall, Clark Wissler, and James Willard Schultz were able to obtain some of the stories that are so sacred to the tribes.
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There are several creation myths found within Native American culture; one of those is the creation myth involving Napioa. Napioa is mentioned in almost all Blackfoot myths and is considered an important figure in the Blackfoot mythology itself. Napioa is known by many names including the sun, Old man, and Napi (Nah-pee). Napioa is said to have created the earth using the mud from a turtle’s mouth that was found on a river upon which napioa floated. He not only created the earth using the mud, but he also created the men and women as well. Napioa also made the bison as tame as ever for the people to hunt. He is said to also have created the animals and the grass and everything else that is on the earth. It is said that he did not create the white people; he only created the Native Americans.
In Blackfoot mythology, there are legends surrounding the origins of everything because, to them, everything has an origin. Napioa is featured in the origin of the wind. In this legend, Napioa finds two bags containing summer and winter. Napioa was determined to get a hold of these bags so that he could make the two seasons of equal months. Napioa tried to gain possession of the bags without success. He finally sent a little animal, which successfully gained possession of the summer bag. The guardian of the bag chased after the animal and decapitated it. In the chaos, the bag burst open and a strong wind came out of it.
Children love stories, especially those of the Blackfoot Native Americans. They use legends and stories to teach the children of the tribe about their past and the history of their tribe. This story involves language and again involves Napioa, but in this story, Napioa is referred to as Old Man. There was a great flood that swept through the land, and after the flood, Old Man made the water different colors. He gathered the people on top of a large mountain where he gave them water of different colors. Old Man then told the people to drink the water, then speak, and so they did. Everyone was speaking a different language except those who received the black water; they were speaking the same language, and they consisted of the Piegans, the Blackfeet, and the Blood Native Americans. This was said to have taken place in the highest mountain in the Montana reservation.
Not all legends involved old man/Napioa, such as the Legend of Red Coulee. This is more of a historical legend. Red Coulee is an actual place located between Mcleod and Benton next to the Marias River in Montana. The Blackfoot Native Americans were told of a medicine stone by the people who inhabited the Montana area at the time. Years later, the Blackfoot tribe gathered a group of fifty men and headed off to find the stone. When they found it, they were laughed at by their leader who said it was a child’s story and rolled the stone down the hill. Later, on their way back to the tribe, they became engaged in battle, leaving all but one man dead, and that is why they call it Red Coulee. People still stop by there today to give offerings for all who lost their lives.