Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Interdisciplinary Studies (MIS)

Degree Name

Interdisciplinary Studies

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Chemistry/Biochemistry, Biomedical Science, Native American Studies

Department or School/College

Interdisciplinary Studies Program

Committee Chair

Garon Smith

Commitee Members

Richmond Clow, Curtis Noonan


Amskapi Pikuni, Blackfeet, Contaminated Waste, Northern Montana, Piikani Nation, Radioactive Isotopic Waste


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Environmental Public Health



Significant health disparities affect much of the American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) and Native Hawaiian (NH) populations of America.3,6,10,11,14 Inequalities in health care and delivery of services for these populations are a contributing factor to disparate health conditions.2 Lack of equity in areas such as social services18, education, environmental contaminants5,7,8,17, historical trauma1 and acute poverty[a1] [KP2] 16, 19 strongly influence health conditions4. People residing within the remaining tribal lands of the Northern Plains experience markedly higher incidence of disease than other ethnicities within this nation10, ultimately resulting in higher frequency of death and preventable death.2 Cancer is one of the most prevalent diseases that impacts the Amskapi Piikani people of Northern Montana[a3] .

Amskapi Pikuni history has been passed down via oral tradition for hundreds of generations, with creation stories beginning some 20,000 years ago in their present territory. The natural rhythm of life was in the seasonal movement of camps and the summertime gathering together of their many bands. This was the traditional time of passing on the history of the confederated tribes and had always been the way of the Siksikaitapi, “the Original People”. Stories were accepted as fact, not just as anecdotal tales. A record of population, seasonal hunts, warrior activities and society responsibilities, gatherings of nations, ceremonial structures, band movement and simple day-to-day lifestyles all emerged from verbal retellings. For example, accounts of hunting buffalo on foot, before the horse came to the Northern Plains, go unquestioned. While tools, skulls and bone fragments have been found at the sites, the stories are much richer than just the archaeological record. There is little tangible evidence regarding most aspects of the traditional oral history record of the Pikuni, yet few Pikuni doubt that the stories are true.

For many decades, people of the Amskapi Pikuni Nation (also known by others as Southern Blackfeet or Southern Piegan) have shared stories of “something bad” being dumped secretly within the boundaries of their lands, the last of the hunting and gathering territories that still remain in Blackfeet sovereignty. While the actual dumping events took place about fifty years ago, there may still be time to recover direct evidence of toxic disposals. Over the years, stories addressing contaminated waste and the locations of rumored dump sites have also been linked with perceived cancer clusters among residents who lived below the Hudson Bay Divide ridge and along the Del Bonita Road



© Copyright 2015 Kimberly L. Paul