Blackfoot Language Group

University of Montana

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Project History

In spring 2007, we received a copy of "A Blackfoot Language Study" (Holterman et al. 1996), a now out-of-print grammar text and dictionary of the Blackfoot language, from the Piegan Institute. Included was a CD with entries from the first four letters in the dictionary pronounced by two native speakers of Blackfoot. During the 2007-2008 school year, Josh Birchall and Meredith Ward began the process of creating an online version of Holterman's dictionary and linking them to the audio files provided by the Piegan Institute. During the 2008-2009 school year Ryan Denzer-King and Miranda McCarvel continued this work, as well as changing the entries to reflect Don Frantz's spelling, since this system is more widely used today. Additional reference pages were created to provide information about the project, the Blackfoot language, and some basic grammar points that are useful in using the dictionary and understanding the language.

Project Goals

This project has several goals:
  1. To preserve the dictionary compiled by Mr. Jack Holterman, who was an amateur scholar of Blackfoot.
  2. To provide sound clips for each entry in the dictionary.
  3. To present the headwords and entries in a way that is easy to use and visually appealing.
  4. To make this material available to a wide audience, including those who may not be familiar with linguistics or the Blackfoot language.

The members of the Blackfoot Language Group at the University of Montana hope this project will be useful for language teachers and learners of Blackfoot alike. In order to make Holterman's dictionary more accessible, we have changed the spelling of the entries to the writing system developed by Dr. Donald G. Frantz. Since this writing system is widely used in several different Blackfoot language communities, we hope that this change will make the dictionary easier for more people to use.

Photography by Wayne Suitor © 2007
Blackfoot syllabary graphic courtesy of