Fools Crow

Fools Crow

by

James Welch

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Fools Crow: Chapter 24 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next day, a party of Pikunis rides toward the Four Horns agency to meet with the seizer chiefs. Heavy Runner is with them, along with a few other lesser chiefs and Rides-at-the-door. The major chiefs have not come along, and the Pikunis know that the seizer chiefs will see their absence as an insult. As the men approach the gates of the agency, they are met by seizers who are unaware of their visit.
The Pikunis’ insult to the Napikwan chiefs is evidence of their resistance, but the fact that the seizers are unaware of their visit suggests the Pikunis’ insignificance in the eyes of the Napikwan chiefs. Even though they have been summoned by the Napikwans, the Pikunis are quickly forgotten.
Themes
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
Finally, the men are allowed into the agency and are introduced to General Sully, the man in charge of Indian policy in the Montana Territory. He tells Rides-at-the-door that since he is not a chief, he will be allowed to sit in on the meeting but cannot speak. The seizers are disappointed that the other chiefs are not present, and General Sully informs them that he has an arrest warrant for Owl Child. The Blackfeet people are expected to aid in his apprehension.
The seizers likewise respond to the Pikunis’ insult by exerting some power of their own. By forbidding Rides-at-the-door a voice during the meeting, they limit the power of the Pikuni people. General Sully can sense that Rides-at-the-door is important, and he is quick to silence him.
Themes
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
The seizers also demand that the two thousand head of livestock that have been stolen from them in the past six months be returned. The Pikunis must stop harassing and killing Napikwans in the area, and General Sully also declares that he is now authorized to bring criminal Indians who have fled justice back from Canada. Rides-at-the-door knows that there is no way his people will be able to meet the conditions of the seizers.
Owl Child is surely not responsible for the theft of two thousand head of livestock. This number represents the widespread resistance of the Pikuni people, and it implies that many warriors have been raiding the Napikwans—it is impossible to blame all of this on Owl Child and his gang.
Themes
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
War Theme Icon
Heavy Runner agrees to find Owl Child but says it will be too difficult to bring him to the agency. It will be easier to kill him instead, says Heavy Runner, and General Sully agrees. Heavy Runner says that they will do their best to recover the stolen livestock, but it will be difficult. Much of it has been traded to Canada, and now there is the added complication of a smallpox outbreak within many of the bands.
This is the first mention of the smallpox outbreak and it foreshadows the widespread devastation that is to come. It also alerts the seizers to the Pikunis’ weakened state on account of the disease, and it is indeed an inflicted camp that the seizers later annihilate.
Themes
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
War Theme Icon
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As the Pikunis depart, Heavy Runner asks General Sully for “a piece of paper with writing” that states that he, Heavy Runner and his people, are friends of the Napikwans. He wishes there to be no violence between his people and the seizers. General Sully quickly writes on a piece of paper that the men are not to be considered hostile and dates it 1 January 1870.
This passage is a powerful scene of the Napikwan chiefs’ deception. Despite identifying his people as non-hostile, Heavy Runner’s camp will be burned to the ground in the very near future. This scene also confirms that the Napikwan chiefs never had any intention of keeping peace with the Pikunis—the plan was always to massacre them.
Themes
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
War Theme Icon