Fools Crow

Fools Crow

by

James Welch

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Fools Crow: Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On a sunny winter day, One Spot and the other children in camp drag blackhorn rib sleds to the top of a snowy hill. They are so involved in their play that none of them notice a wolf sneaking in from the tree line. From a distance too great to intercede, a young girl notices the wolf and the frothy whiteness around its mouth. The wolf circles in a confused manner, and suddenly, it is on top of One Spot, biting and snarling. It quickly spends its energy and wanders back into the trees.
The Pikunis are deeply connected to the surrounding animals—they rely on them for food and spiritual guidance—but they also pose a serious threat to the Pikunis as well. Their connection to the wild animals does not exempt them from their violent power.
Themes
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
In the days following, as Heavy Shield Woman tends to One Spot’s wounds, she wonders about her role as the Sacred Vow Woman. Having felt no peace since taking on the role, she questions her virtue. She considers going to Three Bears and denouncing her role as Medicine Woman.
Heavy Shield Woman’s virtue and her role as the Sacred Vow Woman are questionable. Her vow was made under distress, and she was acting in her own best interest when she prayed for Yellow Kidney’s return—the wellbeing of the tribe came second to the life of her husband.  
Themes
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
In the meantime, Fools Crow and Good Young Man return from hunting, and Red Paint runs to tell them about One Spot. She tells Fools Crow about the wolf and the whiteness around its mouth. Fools Crow goes to see One Spot and finds him alert but missing an ear and most of his cheek. The puncture marks are red and angry. Fools Crow tells One Spot not to think of the wolf as his enemy. “He did only what wolves do,” Fools Crow says. 
Fools Crow’s speech to One Spot further underscores the inherent dangers of wild animals within Pikuni life. The red and angry puncture marks indicate that One Spot is more than likely becoming sick from the attack, and survival is very uncertain.
Themes
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
Fools Crow asks One Spot if he remembers the story of Poia, or Scar Face. One Spot remembers that the people scorned him because of his scar, but Fools Crow tells him not to worry. The Pikuni honor Scar Face, and now One Spot must think of his own scars as a badge of honor. “Of all the Above Ones,” Fools Crow says, “[Poia] is most like us.”
The Pikuni people are reflected in the natural world, including in their spiritual deities, and One Spot’s scars are proof of this. Furthermore, the telling of Poia’s tale is a testament to the power of Pikuni storytelling. One Spot and Fools Crow finds strength in the stories of their ancestors.
Themes
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
Get the entire Fools Crow LitChart as a printable PDF.
Fools Crow PDF
The next day, One Spot grows ill and begins to have trouble swallowing. He is unable to take any water and his eyes have a blank expression. Mik-api is away from camp visiting another tribe, but Fools Crow remembers a ritual that he had taught him. He quickly wraps One Spot in a blackhorn hide, skin side down, and begins to chant while burning sweet grass. Then, with a burning stick, he burns the hair from the hide. He purifies the air by burning a bundle of sage grass and instructs Heavy Shield Woman to bathe One Spot in warm water.
Fools Crow saves One Spot with his magical ritual, and it is evidence of his power and competence as a many-faces man. Fools Crow has never performed the ceremony before, but he is still successful. Additionally, Fools Crow’s use of the blackhorn hide is further proof of the Pikunis’ connection to and dependence on the buffalo to maintain their way of life. 
Themes
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
Fools Crow stays awake all night beating a small drum and chanting. Hours later, Good Young Man wakes to finds Fools Crow on all fours, growling and snapping at One Spot’s body like a wolf. He wakes again later to find Fools Crow hunched over the body, and when Good Young Man moves closer to see his brother, One Spot opens his eyes.
Again, the single drum beat represents the beat of a single heart that is keeping the Pikunis alive. When One Spot opens his eyes, Good Young Man knows that he will survive—much like the Pikuni people and their way of life.
Themes
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon