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Old North Trail

March 17, 2015

There may not be much of a trail to find, but that doesn’t make it less real. The last thing I read suggested it is about 15,000 years old, running from Siberia to Argentina.

In Old North Trail: Or, Life, Legends and Religion of the Blackfeet Indians author Walter McClintock described the O.N.T. as being more like the channels of a river and less like a trail as one would find in the woods. The routes changed depending upon ice on lakes, say, and whether enemies were out to get you.
He said in early times Blackfeet expeditions would ride horseback south to Mexico and beyond, returning years later with prizes and stories of the wonders there. Then those trips stopped.
He said in 1869 a smallpox epidemic from white settlers decimated the Blackfeet. That, plus starvation, plus warfare with white settlers reduced the Blackfeet populations from 30-40,000 to about 3,500 by the time they were pushed to their present reservation. The bison were slaughtered in 1883, then the next winter the people starved. The Blackfeet traded land for food. Like that.

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