The Blackfoot Language
The language of the Blackfoot people is Algonquian. This is spoken in all the tribes of the Blackfoot which are the Siksika, Kainai, the Pikanii and the Blackfeet nations. It is spoken by 8,000 people those who are in the north part of Montana and those in Alberta, Canada. Although the language today does differ from what it was 100 years ago it still remains as Algonquian.
There are two different dialects that are spoken: Pikanii and Siksika Blackfoot. These languages consist of verbs as well as polysynthetic languages. Polysynthetic languages consist of long and highly structured words that have many parts. These types of words are called morphemes. In other words, their language has very long words that translate to make up a whole sentence or phrase.
There was a time in the early 1900’s when white settlers wiped through the Blackfoot territories, in the northern plains, destroying most of their land and food sources, causing many deaths. Even through these times were hard and many lives were lost, the Blackfoot Indians held on tight to their traditions and their original languages are still being spoke today. Currently, the Blackfoot language is undergoing change. The older generations continue to speak Old Blackfoot, while the younger generations are learning and speaking New Blackfoot. Although the language is shifting, there are children that are still being taught the original Blackfoot language.
This is the Blackfoot syllabary it was used for their written language. One row would be for each Blackfoot Vowel and the each column would be for the Consonant. It does give an idea of how the language was used but please note that this would be very hard to use since it does not really represent the way Blackfoot learn the language since it was created by a non-Blackfoot missionary and it is hard for Algonquian to understand. It is just here to show the symbols they use.
Native American Sign Language
The Blackfoot also used Native American Sign Language however this was used to communicate with other tribes who spoke different languages. The tribes who used Native American Sign Language were the Sioux, Cheyenne, Blackfoot and Kiowa.
If you would like to see an example of Native American Sign Language please click on the link below:
The language today is still alive however with the new and the older generation there are differences in the language. It is still being learned by the younger generation by the older generation but as you can see by the image time eventually will cause the language to gradually evolve with each new generation. (The image below is not a true representation of the language shift, just an example of the differences in the language so you can get an idea.)
Baldwin, Stuart J. “Blackfoot Neologisms.” international Journal of American linguistics 60.1 (1994). 69-72. web.