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Tattooing among the Blackfoot Indians was documented by early explorers and adventurers. There are, however, few pictorial representations of Blackfoot Indian tattoos. Thus it is difficult for modern society to identify with certainty what these tattoos resembled. From evidence gathered through the writings and journals of explorers and adventurers, the tattoos were part of the body art of warriors in the Blackfoot Indian tribe. The tattoos were generally on the forehead and the cheeks and made the warriors look fearsome and intimidating.
Blackfoot Indian tattoos were also for identifying members of one tribe with their family and band. Distinguishing tattoo marks were permanent and this made identification easier, especially during the frenzy of a battle. When the Blackfoot Indian warriors went to war with other tribes in the Great Plains, their tattoos were symbols of bravery and courage. These tattoos differentiated them from warriors of other tribes who were also tattooed.
The figures and lines on the faces of Blackfoot Indian tattoos on warriors may have been protective in nature as well. Blackfoot Indian practiced a type of shamanic religion which is regarded as a living religion that included sacred artifacts which were propitiated during ceremonial rites. The belief of the living religion was that natural creations, such as trees and animals, had spirits which should be appeased or propitiated or negotiated with.
Blackfoot Indian tattoos are vital parts of the cultural heritage of the Blackfoot Indian community, although the art of traditional tattooing died away as the tribe became more assimilated to the European way of life. The practice of tattooing is rarely followed by the members of the modern Blackfoot Indian community in keeping with the current culture of not having large visible body art that is permanent.
It is vital for any present member of the Blackfoot Indian community, who wants to have a traditional tattoo done, to search for elders in the community to seek guidance on the correct tattoos that reflect the ancestral culture of the community. If wrongly tattooed, the bearer of the tattoo may have symbols that come from other tribes instead of his own.
Blackfoot Indian tattoos are part of the cultural identity of members of the Blackfoot community. They form a vital link to the rich past of this brave tribe.