16 photographs, 2 maps
Modern Blackfeet sheds light on the politics, economics, society, and especially the acculturation of the Blackfeet Indians of Montana. The Blackfeet Reservation has an established government and an active and diverse population that has long supported itself through ranching, industry, and oil and natural gas exploration. Malcolm McFee shows why, as a result, policies and programs based on simplistic assumptions of assimilation are doomed to failure.
The results of McFee’s long-term research among the Blackfeet in the 1950s and 1960s make it clear that acculturation is not simply a linear process of assimilation or a one-way cultural adaptation to the impact of Euro-American culture. He reviews the changing policies of the U.S. government, which were directed initially at the destruction of all native customs and values, then at the promotion of Blackfeet self-government, and eventually at the threatened termination of their status. Finally and most important, McFee notes that racial identity on the reservation today is explained more by values and behavior than by biology and thus divides the community into a white-oriented majority and a smaller, Indian-oriented group dedicated to preserving the tribe’s traditional lifeways.