The Gros Ventres (from French: big belly) are a Native American tribe located in northcentral Montana, also known as the Atsina, which is considered an inaccurate and derogatory name. There are currently 3,682 members and they share Fort Belknap Indian Reservation with the Assiniboine, their historical enemies. Gros Ventre is a name that was given to the people by the French who misinterpreted their sign language. Instead, the Gros Ventre people refer to themselves as A'ani or A'aninin, which means "white clay people". The Arapaho and the A'aninin were a single large tribe that lived along the Red River valley in northern Minnesota and Canada. In the early 1700s the large tribe split into two; forming the A'aninin and the Arapaho. The Arapaho went south and the A'aninin stayed in the Saskatchewan region.---------------Atsina is thought to be a Blackfoot word for "gut people", the other Arapaho who considered them inferior called them Hitúnĕna, meaning "beggars". Other interpretations have yielded the terms "hunger", "waterfall", and "big bellies".
At the time of first contact with Europeans in 1754, the Gros Ventre ranged the Canadian Prairies around the Saskatchewan River Forks. Long time enemies of the Cree and Assiniboine they were forced to withdraw from what is now Canada during the first half of the nineteenth century due to the acquisition of guns by the Cree from the Hudson's Bay Company. In response the Gros Ventre had, in about 1793, attacked and burnt the Hudson's Bay Company post at South Branch House on the South Saskatchewan River near present day St. Louis, Saskatchewan. The tribe moved south to the Milk River and were associated with the Blackfoot. The Gros Ventre adopted the Plains culture with its horses and guns and followed the bison for food. Because they refused to receive their treaty payments at Fort Peck along with their enemies, the Sioux, the U.S. government established Fort Belknap in 1878, near present Chinook, Montana. In 1888, the Blackfoot, Assiniboine and Gros Ventre ceded much of their lands and the much smaller Fort Belknap Reservation was established which the Gros Ventre share with the Assiniboine. By 1904 there were only 535 tribe members. The current reservation government has a council which includes four officers as well as four members from each tribe.