Carrying the Fire the Pikunii Way

Video and educational lesson about how and why the Pikunii (one branch of the Blackfeet Nation) people transported fire from one camp to another as they traveled along historical migration routes. This activity includes a complete lesson plan, examination of a Fire Carrier model, and a 12-minute video interview with Pikunii elder Marvin Weatherwax as he describes the importance, technology, and use of the Fire Carrier. This lesson is part of the FireWorks educational program.

Many Native American peoples developed technology and traditions so they could carry fire from one place to another. The Pikunii people of the western Great Plains and Rocky Mountain Front used fire carriers made of buffalo horns to carry burning coals from one camp to the next and to start a fire in the new camp. This was very helpful for the people as they arrived in the new camp, but the fire also served another important purpose: The fire provided spiritual and cultural continuity for the people because the same fire was used in one camp after another, even while the people traveled thousands of miles in their yearly migrations.

Developed in collaboration with the Native Science Field Center at Blackfeet Community College.

Visit the FireWorks Activity page to see the lesson plan and related materials. To borrow the Fire Carrier model, please contact us.


Fire Carrier diagram