Bill's Genealogy Blog

Bill Buchanan is a long-time genealogy enthusiast, living in Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada. This blog will describe my experiences as I research my family history and help others.

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Location: Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada

I am a retired online school teacher. I love family history. Since 2007, I have spent much of my time providing part-time support for the world's largest free family history site This is very rewarding. I have helped others with the Family Tree and related FamilySearch products.
In 2010-2018 Iserved in the Edmonton Riverbend Family History Centre. I have a FHC blog at Bill's Family History Center Blog For information the Latter-day Saints and family history click

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Blackfoot Indian Genealogy

During the past two weeks I have been doing some research for a friend of mine.

His ancestors lived on the Blood Indian Reserve between Cardston and Fort Macleod, Alberta.
I was delighted to find photographs of his great grandfather Big Sorrel Horse and his great grandmother, and his great-great grandfather Left Hand. This is amazing, as I do not have a single photo of any of my great-great grandparents!

I even found written descriptions of family members, and in one case I found a family story told by Big Sorrel Horse himself. He tells how some of the people were totally devastated when the buffalo disappeared and they had to rely on government handouts to avoid starvation. He said that Chief Red Crow decided if white men could survive by agriculture so could the Blood people. Left Hand believed this too, and Big Sorrel Horse tells how his father threshed the grain by putting it on blankets and walking the horses around and around to tread out the grain. Then he winnowed it in the wind, and loaded 7 bags of oats on a travois and spent 3 days taking it to Fort Macleod to sell it.

Other stories tell how the governments on both sides of the border imposed peace between nations that had been enemies for generations, and the trouble caused by men who wanted to keep up the old traditions of raiding the camps of others. For young men in particular, battle honors might be needed in order to claim a wife.

In the 1901 Canada census, the earliest Canada census where I found him, Big Sorrel Horse was aged 18 and already married. The story I heard was that he earned the name by defeating a Cree warrior who was riding a big white horse, but when he rode the horse out of the water, its coat was stained red by the blood in the water. So he had won a "big sorrel horse" in battle and this became his name, which has been passed down to some of his descendants.

Black and white photo of Mr. and Mrs. Big Sorrel Horse


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