Published on November 19, 2012 by Carol
Author: Hugh Aylmer Dempsey
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The Vengeful Wife and Other Blackfoot Stories by historian Hugh Dempsey presents tales of the Blackfoot tribe on the plains of northern Montana and southern Alberta. The result of fifty years of interviewing tribal elders and sifting through archives, these stories are about warfare, hunting, ceremonies, sexuality, the supernatural, and captivity and reflect Indian viewpoints and beliefs. Previously unpublished stories about great leaders such as Seen From Afar, Bull Head, and White Calf chronicle the Blackfoot reservation years, brushes with the law, and the challenges of adapting to a new way of life.
Preserved in this remarkable compilation of oral history and accounts from government officials, travelers, and fur traders are stories dating from the late 1700s to the early 1900s. “The importance of oral history,” Dempsey writes, “is reflected in the fact that the majority of these stories would never have survived had they not been preserved orally from generation to generation.”
At the turn of the twentieth century, the Blackfoot Indians were threatened with hunger by loss of buffalo herds and were geographically divided by the 49th parallel. Today they survive as the Blood, Piegan, and Siksika tribes and their culture remains strong, thanks in part to the recording of oral traditions.