Piegans, a tribe of American Indians belonging to the Blackfeet nation, now in Montana. They derive their name from a chief named Piegan (" the Pheasant"), under whom they separated from the main body of the Blackfeet. They were originally between the Milk and Marias, on the Marias and Teton, and between the last named river and the Missouri. The lower band was the largest and best; the northern band were nearer the British line. The Piegans were the most civilized and warlike of the Blackfeet; they dressed comfortably and even gaudily, their ornaments of porcupine quills distinguishing them from the others. They used bows extremely short, not more than 2 1/2 or 3 ft. long, made of ash, bone, or horn, and were constantly at war with the Crows, Flatheads, Gros Ventres, and other tribes. After two treaties had failed, a final one was made Sept. 1, 1868, ceding lands, the government agreeing to pay $1,000,000 in instalments of $50,000, and to meet debts of traders estimated to amount to $75,000. Although the Piegans remained generally peaceful, occasional collisions occurred. Lieut. Col. Baker was sent against them in the winter, and on Jan. 23, 1870, he surprised Red Horn's camp on the Marias, killing 173 men, women, and children. This massacre excited general censure throughout the country.
They have since lost heavily by smallpox. Their reservation was narrowed down by act of April 15, 1874, which took away their best hunting and pasture lands. In 1874 they were estimated at 2,450 in 350 lodges. Their attempts at cultivation have failed from a variety of causes. Roman Catholic missions were begun in 1846, and were kept up; but in the religious division, the Blackfeet and the kindred tribes were assigned to the Methodists. They have a school with 26 pupils.