Invisible Reality


Invisible Reality

Storytellers, Storytakers, and the Supernatural World of the Blackfeet

Rosalyn R. LaPier

New Visions in Native American and Indigenous Studies Series

246 pages
24 photographs, 4 maps, index


September 2017


$50.00 Add to Cart

August 2019


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

September 2017


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

September 2017


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Winner of the 2018 John C. Ewers Book Award 
Winner of the 2018 Donald Fixico Book Award

Rosalyn R. LaPier demonstrates that Blackfeet history is incomplete without an understanding of the Blackfeet people’s relationship and mode of interaction with the “invisible reality” of the supernatural world. Religious beliefs provided the Blackfeet with continuity through privations and changing times. The stories they passed to new generations and outsiders reveal the fundamental philosophy of Blackfeet existence, namely, the belief that they could alter, change, or control nature to suit their needs and that they were able to do so with the assistance of supernatural allies. The Blackfeet did not believe they had to adapt to nature. They made nature adapt. Their relationship with the supernatural provided the Blackfeet with stability and made predictable the seeming unpredictability of the natural world in which they lived.

In Invisible Reality LaPier presents an unconventional, creative, and innovative history that blends extensive archival research, vignettes of family stories, and traditional knowledge learned from elders along with personal reflections on her own journey learning Blackfeet stories. The result is a nuanced look at the history of the Blackfeet and their relationship with the natural world.

Author Bio

Rosalyn R. LaPier is an associate professor in the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Montana and a research associate at the National Museum of Natural History. She is the coauthor, with David R. M. Beck, of City Indian: Native American Activism in Chicago, 1893–1934 (Nebraska, 2015).


“An excellent contribution to the scholarship on the Blackfeet and to the scholarship on indigenous peoples generally.”—Ted Binnema, Journal of Anthropological Research

“[LaPier’s] book refreshingly is tied to her extended family, especially its women, instead of the generalized ‘Blackfoot’ of most outside ethnographers. Readable in style, [Invisible Reality] conveys the self-respect and confidence that paternalist governance and poverty could not defeat.”—A. B. Kehoe, Choice

“This is an important, accomplished, creative, [and] imaginative history that zings with original insights.”—Sarah Carter, professor and the Henry Marshall Tory Chair of the Department of History and Classics at the University of Alberta and editor of Montana Women Homesteaders: A Field of One’s Own

“Rosalyn LaPier guides us through the meanings the Blackfeet community has attached to the plants and natural phenomena that surround them and at the same time makes clear the boundless complexity and stunning beauty of this indigenous cultural tradition.”—Frederick E. Hoxie, Swanlund Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and editor of The Oxford Handbook of American Indian History

“An important book that tackles some interesting philosophical issues in epistemology and ontology from a Native American perspective, [Invisible Reality] does so with a critical eye regarding change under colonization and modernity.”—Patricia Albers, professor of American Indian studies and anthropology at the University of Minnesota and coauthor of The Hidden Half: Studies of Plains Indian Women

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Something Vital Was Missing
1. No Nothing: The Blackfeet Reservation in 1910
2. Invisible Reality: The Blackfeet Universe
3. Visible Reality: The Saokiotapi
4. Closed Season: The Blackfeet Winter
5. Opened Season: The Blackfeet Summer
6. Storytakers: Ethnographers Visit the Blackfeet
7. All That Remain: From the Prairies to the Atomic Age
Epilogue: And the Dogs Have Separated


Winner of the 2018 John C. Ewers Book Award 
Winner of the 2018 Donald Fixico Book Award

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