According to their oral history, the people of the Blackfoot Confederacy have lived in what is now known as Montana for ten thousand years. Their original reservation was established by the Lame Bull Treaty in 1855. In 1895, the Blackfeet negotiated an agreement with the United States government to sell 800,000 acres of mountainous land on the western border of the reservation for the sum of 1.5 million dollars. The Federal government acquired the land for the purpose of mineral exploration. This agreement also stipulated that the Blackfeet would retain the right to hunt, fish, and gather wood on this land so long as it remained publicly owned. After several years of advocacy, most notably by Louis B. Hill, president of the Great Northern Railroad, Glacier National Park was created by an act of Congress in 1911. The portion of the former Blackfeet Reservation sold to the Federal government in 1895 became part of the newly established Glacier National Park. With this transfer, the people of the Blackfeet Nation lost their access to this land they had used for generations.
This film, produced by Quinn Smith (Chickasaw) for the IACB, explores the history of the Blackfeet people in early twentieth century, particularly in relation to the creation of Glacier National Park. The historic photos used in this film come from the collection of the Museum of the Plains Indian in Browning, Montana. Many of these images were collected from various sources by Ralph Reiner of Billings, Montana, as part of his research for an unpublished manuscript The Blackfeet of Montana. Ernie Heavy Runner and Darrell Norman, both respected Blackfeet elders, narrate the film and share their knowledge of these events and people. These images and the oral histories shared by Mr. Heavy Runner and Mr. Norman, present a unique perspective on this era from a Native American viewpoint.