Fools Crow

Fools Crow

by

James Welch

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Fools Crow: Chapter 29 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next morning, Red Paint wakes to find Fools Crow has painted his face, but it is not war paint. He tells his wife that his dreams have instructed him to go on a vision quest. He will be gone for seven days, although he doesn’t know where his journey will take him. He will be guided along the way and knows only that he is too arrive at his destination as a beggar.
Culturally speaking, a vision quest is a more deliberate form of seeking answers through dreams. A vision quest usually involves a journey of some type, and the dreamer is typically ignorant of their destination. 
Themes
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Fools Crow sets out on horseback. His dreams have instructed him to ride for three days and nights. As he rides, he sees the Backbone in the distance and the buildings of the Four Horns agency. As he moves through Napikwan country, he prays for safe passage. He rides without stopping and begins to daydream, seeing Red Paint and his people in his mind. After three days, he comes to a blocked entrance of a canyon, and with some difficulty, drives his horse through the dense trees and into an open valley. Seven Persons is clear in the sky and Fools Crow knows he is in the right place.
The Backbone and the Four Horns agency physically represent Fools Crow’s current dilemma. Either he moves his people north toward the Backbone, the Siksikas, and their fish, or they surrender to the agency, get vaccinated, and become Napikwans. Again, when Seven Persons is clear in the sky, the right choice is likewise clear to Fools Crow. He is guided and reassured by the constellation’s presence. 
Themes
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
Fools Crow sees a small lodge in the valley, which he senses he is supposed to approach. He stands before the door, afraid to knock, when it suddenly swings open. Inside is a woman wrapped in a blanket and she beckons to him.
This portion of Fools Crow’s vision quest vaguely resembles his dream about the white-faced girl, and this infuses the lodge with a sense of dread.
Themes
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Later, Fools Crow raises his head from the sleeping platform. There is a dog nearby, and Fools Crow hears a soft sleeping song coming from an unknown source. He sees a slab of meat on the table and eats several pieces along with a glass of chokecherry juice. The juice is tart and makes his stomach feel warm. He doesn’t want to sleep in this strange place, but he can’t keep his eyes open. He drifts off to the continued sounds of the sleeping song.
Despite his earlier apprehension, the lodge is exceedingly comfortable and inviting. All of Fools Crow’s needs are met. Presumably, this cabin belongs to Feather Woman, and like Mother Nature, she has everything Fools Crow needs to survive.
Themes
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
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Suddenly, Fools Crow is in a meadow full of four-leggeds. He walks quietly through the animals, which don’t seem to notice him. The country is beautiful, but he has no idea where he is and fears he has failed. Fools Crow feels foolish for believing that he could somehow help his people by following his dreams. Suddenly, the dog from the lodge runs by and slips between the trees, disappearing. Skunk Bear runs by, hot on the dog’s trail.
The animals don’t notice Fools Crow as he walks through them because as a Pikuni, he is at one with the animals and therefore they are at ease. This strange place represents ideal Pikuni lands—animals roam freely and there is no sign of the Napikwans. The presence of Skunk Bear further cements Fools Crow’s connection to the land.
Themes
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
Fools Crow senses that he should follow and enters a cold, dark tunnel. He sings the song that the wolverine had given him and tries to find his courage. Finally, he emerges in a meadow of thick grass and wonders if he is in summer land. He soon finds a river, and after a swim, Fools Crow notices that Sun Chief has not moved in the sky. In the warmth of the sun, he falls asleep.
Sun Chief does not move in the sky because this land is not the summer land. Fools Crow is in the place of So-at-sa-ki’s eternal punishment. Sun Chief is forever present—except during the false dawn of So-at-sa-ki’s forced mourning when she is subjected to the early morning constellations of her husband and son.
Themes
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
A woman in a plain doeskin dress watches as Fools Crow sleeps. She is unadorned and wears no jewelry; even her moccasins are plain. The dog is near her side, and as she watches the man, she absentmindedly strokes her short hair.
The short hair and unadorned state of So-at-sa-ki is further evidence of her mourning—her outward appearance must match her inner pain.
Themes
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
When Fools Crows wakes, he is surrounded by nothing but sand. The sun is still high in the sky, but he hears no birds, and as he looks around, he doesn’t see any other animals. With a panic, Fools Crow realizes that there are no animals in this strange place, and he wonders what he will eat, although, strangely, he does not feel hungry. The dog from the lodge is running in the distance and Fools Crow can see a white figure standing by the tree line.
Again, the white figure carries a negative connotation. Welch has so closely associated the color white with death and danger that mention of the color white has the effect of instilling a sense of dread and peril.
Themes
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon