Cal Interpreting & Translations (CIT) offers Blackfoot interpreters and translators with legal, medical and specialty experience, including criminal and civil matters, employee meetings, engineering, patent cases, labor disputes, immigration and more.

Although based in Los Angeles, CIT offers comprehensive Blackfoot language services including interpretation, translation and transcription, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, worldwide. Our interpreters and translators are native speakers who have been screened, certified, have provided credentials, field tested, and kept up to date with developments in both English and the Blackfoot language through means such as lectures, conferences, and travel. CIT’s Blackfoot language interpreters and translators possess in depth knowledge of the Blackfoot language, as well as of the culture and history of the Blackfoot people, allowing them to provide informed and complete interpretation and translation.

The Blackfoot Language

Blackfoot, also known as Siksika, is one of the Algonquin languages that is spoken in southern Alberta, Canada and northern Montana. Typically, it has free word order but has complex verb morphology. There are two main dialects: Pikanii and Siksika. Within Blackfoot, there is Old Blackfoot which is being spoken by the older population, and New Blackfoot, which is being taught to children and taking the place of Old Blackfoot.

The Blackfoot Nation can be broken up into four separate nations. They all have a historical and cultural similarity but their leadership differs. These nations are the Siksika, the Kainai (Blood Nation), the Pikanii (Peigan Nation) and the Blackfeet Nation. The first three are typically found in Alberta while the last is found in Montana. Historically, the Blackfoot were plain hunters and the enemies of the Shoshone and Nez Perce people. Collectively, there are 14,000 Blackfoot members today but only about 3,400 native speakers of the language. English speakers came up with the term Blackfoot (or Blackfeet for plural) for people of these four nations, as they all speak the same language. Other names for the Blackfoot Nation include Siksikawa, Pekuni, Pincaneux, Piekann, Kainah, Pied Noir, Many Chiefs, Pan-pans, Archithinue, Akainawa and Akainaa. Those who live in Canada are referred to as Aapatohsipikani (or Northern Peigan )while those living in Montana are known as Aamsskaapipikani (or Southern Peigan). Additionally, all Blackfoot Nation members can sometimes be referred to as Niitsitapi, which means “original person.”

History of the Blackfoot

The Blackfoot were very powerful people who hunted buffalo primarily in the northern plains. Even though they were nomads, most of the time they settled in Montana, Idaho and Alberta. Initially, the Blackfoot people were fine with the Europeans when they arrived to their lands. The Europeans typically brought horses which were non-threatening to the buffalo of the Blackfoot. However, in the mid 1800s, a smallpox epidemic swarmed through the Blackfoot. There is some evidence that suggests that the Europeans spread it to the Blackfoot by giving them infected blanket. In 1870, while the American Army was looking for a hostile group of Mountain Chief’s Blackfoot Indians, they came across a peaceful group of Heavy Runner’s Blackfoot and killed almost 200 members, mostly women and children. By the year 1900, the white settlers had whipped out the buffalo herds of the Blackfoot, where many starved to death. Even with the many trials and tribulations of the Blackfoot, their language still prevails.

Grammar and writing of Blackfoot

Grammatically, Blackfoot is spoken in four persons: first, second, third and obviative. All nouns are either animate or inanimate. The verbal template consists of a stem and several prefixes or suffixes. The script in which Blackfoot is written, syllabics, was created by an Anglican missionary, John William Tims, in 1888. It is almost identical to Western Cree syllabics, but the letter forms are different. There are five series in the script, two which were taken from Cree.

Interesting Facts about the Blackfoot

  • Their main god is the sun
  • They hold an annual 4-day sun dance
  • Blackfeet always build their teepees with the entrance facing east