Many Shots's robe

This robe bears the painted war deeds of Many Shots, one of the Kanai, a division of the Blackfoot people of the northwestern plains of North America in present day Montana and Alberta.

Blackfoot men painted their war deeds on shirts, robes and rocks. Blackfoot territory is in the north-western plains of North America (present day Montana and Alberta). They were buffalo-hunting people that used warfare with neighbouring tribes to control access to buffalo, guns, horses and trade. Men were encouraged to seek status through deeds in warfare, and recorded them to remind others of their achievements.

Blackfoot art is part of a larger northern Plains tradition that began to incorporate European items across the 19th century: you can see a cart on Many Shots’s robe, as well as a woman killing a grizzly bear with an axe.

Blackfoot people took treaty in the late 19th century and moved onto reservations in their former territory. When the bison herds were exterminated by white commercial hunters, cattle replaced bison, and Blackfoot people became cattle ranchers. For some decades during this transition, both the Canadian and American governments supplied cattle as rations to Blackfoot people, which is why Many Shots’ robe is painted on cowhide.

Accession number: 1895.61.1