The next day, Fast Horse approaches White Man’s Dog. Despite being one winter younger than White Man’s Dog, Fast Horse teases him tirelessly because he doesn’t have a woman. Fast Horse tells him about Yellow Kidney’s plan to lead a party against the Crow horses. The Crow, already threatened by the Napikwans, are weak and have no many-shots guns.
The Napikwans, or white settlers, have been moving West for some time now, and they are encroaching on Crow land. The Napikwans have already taken tribal lands to the east with the help of the United States government, and the Crows are weak from resisting this oppressive force. Yellow Kidney hopes to capitalize on this weakness.
Fast Horse says that Yellow Kidney has invited him on the raid because he has strong medicine, which his father inherited from the wood-biter. Fast Horse has convinced Yellow Kidney to allow White Man’s Dog to come along to cook and tend to the horses. Yellow Kidney believes that White Man’s Dog has “much heart” but is “unlucky.” If White Man’s Dog joins the party, he will be given several horses as payment.
Yellow Kidney’s belief that Fast Horse has strong medicine is a reference to the Beaver Medicine bundle, a bag of sacred objects that each represents individual songs and stories of the Pikuni people. Even though Fast Horse does not technically possess the bundle himself (his father does), Yellow Kidney still hopes that the warriors can harness some of that power by proxy.
White Man’s Dog is hesitant to join the party. He does not have Fast Horse’s medicine (his father’s Beaver Medicine bundle is the most powerful among the Pikunis), and White Man’s Dog’s own animal helper refuses to speak to him. Fast Horse suggests that he seek another animal helper, but White Man’s Dog believes that this animal is testing his worthiness.
White Man’s Dog’s dedication to his silent animal helper reflects his dedication to the Pikuni way of life. Fast Horse, on the other hand, is quick to abandon the spirit animal to find something better, and this largely reflects his own behavior toward the Pikuni way of life throughout most of the novel.
Fast Horse tells White Man’s Dog that Mik-api, a powerful many-faces man, has strong medicine and has agreed to perform a ceremony. White Man’s Dog agrees and is excited at the thought of Mik-api’s help. Fast Horse tells White Man’s Dog to keep their plans a secret—their journey is long and dangerous, and the others will try to talk them out of it.
As a many-faces man, Mik-api has the power to endow White Man’s Dog with “strong medicine,” or courage in the form of ceremonial prayers and songs. These prayers and songs—a type of storytelling—are sacred in Pikuni culture.
Later that night, Rides-at-the-door notes that White Man’s Dog is in better spirits than he has been for some time. Rides-at-the-door fears his elder son is a coward. His younger son, Running Fisher, shows much more promise of becoming a respected member of the tribe. Now, as Kills-close-to-the-lake serves White Man’s Dog roasted meat, Rides-at-the-door has a renewed sense of optimism that his son will grow into a brave man after all.
Rides-at-the-door’s initial assessment of his sons and their abilities is highly ironic. White Man’s Dog, of course, becomes a respected member of the tribe, whereas Running Fisher is ultimately banished for dishonoring his father’s lodge. White Man’s Dog, like the Pikuni people, is a deeply spiritual young man, and the mere mention of Mik-api’s medicine is enough to help him find his strength.