Fools Crow

Fools Crow

by

James Welch

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Fools Crow: Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Yellow Kidney looks up to Seven Persons as he waits for Fast Horse and White Man’s Dog. The raid party, consisting of four other men, has gathered and is ready to depart. Other than Yellow Kidney, Eagle Ribs is the most experienced horse-taker. Known for his strong scouting skills, Eagle Ribs can slip undetected through enemy camps.
Yellow Kidney looks to Seven Persons for strength and direction before the raid, much like White Man’s Dog does to help navigate his inappropriate feelings for Kills-close-to-the-lake. Most of the warriors in the raiding party have never warred before, and Yellow Kidney needs all the help he can get.
Themes
War Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
Yellow Kidney is the only member of the party who has a many-shots gun; the others are armed with only bows and knives. As Fast Horse and White Man’s Dog approach, Yellow Kidney is struck by two main concerns—White Man’s Dog is “unlucky” and Fast Horse is greedy and “reckless.”
Yellow Kidney’s concerns are realized with Fast Horse’s display of hubris during the raid, which is ultimately the cause of Yellow Kidney’s capture. Yellow Kidney’s apprehension is the first of many signs (which he ignores) that the raid will end badly. 
Themes
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
War Theme Icon
As they walk, Yellow Kidney leads the men in the direction of Red Old Man’s Butte, where he knows of a war lodge where they can rest. Near the Bear River, a fox runs across their path, and Yellow Kidney takes this as a good sign. A fox sighting is known to give men cunning, and to see one in a dream makes a man a strong leader.
Yellow Kidney’s fox sighting reflects the Pikunis’ connection to nature. The Pikunis consider themselves one with nature and the animals, and to simply see a fox bestows them with its characteristics. The belief that seeing a fox in one’s dream makes one strong also underscores the significance of dreams in Pikuni culture.
Themes
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
As Red Old Man’s Butte comes into sight, Eagle Ribs goes ahead to scout, as the area is popular among enemy tribes of the Snakes and the Flatheads. As the other men rest, Fast Horse tells them about a dream he had two sleeps ago. In this dream, Cold Maker came down from Always Winter Land on a white horse and promised to aid the men in their raid if they remove the boulder from his favorite ice spring on the side of Woman Don’t Walk Butte.
Cold Maker’s white horse foreshadows Eagle Ribs’s own dream about the death horse after Yellow Kidney fails to return from the raid. Fast Horse’s dream and his failure to find Cold Maker’s spring are further signs that the party should turn back, yet Yellow Kidney does not heed the warnings. 
Themes
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
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In Fast Horse’s dream, Cold Maker told him that if he finds the boulder and moves it, he will make the snow fall behind them to cover the party’s tracks after the raid; but if he doesn’t, Cold Maker will punish Fast Horse and the entire party. Since Cold Maker has offered his help to Fast Horse, he must bring Cold Maker two prime bull robes for his daughters during the helping-to-eat moon. Yellow Kidney is troubled by Fast Horse’s dream. He knows that the dream cannot be ignored, and he fears that they won’t be able to find the spring.
Yellow Kidney is troubled by Fast Horse’s dream because he is likewise troubled by Fast Horse. Yellow Kidney doesn’t trust him, and he knows that he should turn the party back; however, Yellow Kidney is determined to raid the Crows’ camp and increase his own material wealth. Ultimately, the risks do not outweigh the benefits, and it is in this way that Welch is critical of war. 
Themes
War Theme Icon
As their journey continues, the party comes upon the head of Little Prickly Pear near the land belonging to Malcolm Clark, a whitehorn rancher known as Four Bears who has a history of trading with the Pikunis. He married Cutting-off-head Woman, and despite his bad temper, he has a lot of say with the Napikwan chiefs. Yellow Kidney is not afraid of Four Bears, but he wants to steer clear of the Napikwans.
Malcolm Clark is a product of European colonialism and western expansion. He moved in on native land and introduced large herds of beef cattle—effectively displacing local blackhorn herds. Clark has completely infiltrated native land and life, and has even taken a native wife, which is particularly insulting to Pikuni men.
Themes
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
The Napikwan want to “exterminate” the Pikunis. They wish to take over Pikuni lands and graze whitehorns, and they have already taken much of the Pikunis’ territory. In exchange for land, the Napikwans have given the Pikunis goods—knives, tobacco, blankets, and some of their “strange food,” like the “white sand that makes things sweet, the white powder, the bitter black drink.” Everyone has been happy with this arrangement; the Napikwans have access to Pikuni lands and the Pikuni can also graze whitehorns and “plant seeds in the breast of Mother Earth,” and this makes the white chiefs happy.
If the Napikwan chiefs control the Pikunis’ food source, then they effectively control the Pikunis. Whitehorn cattle and the crops that the Napikwans introduce to the Pikunis are not naturally occurring—they must be supplied by the government, and the Pikunis have no other way to obtain them. Clearing land for farming vegetables and raising cattle eliminates the natural habitat of game animals, which also eliminates the Pikunis’ native food source and their self-reliance. 
Themes
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
Related Quotes
By the ninth day, the party reaches the land of many enemies and must switch to travelling at night. White Man’s Dog thinks of the dream that he has had the last three nights in a row. In this dream, he walks through an enemy camp and is led by a dog to a lodge decorated with star clusters. In the lodge are several naked women, and a young white-faced girl beckons him. White Man’s Dog can sense that the young woman desires him, but he is frightened and runs off. White Man’s Dog is troubled by his dream and believes that it is a sign—only he doesn’t know how to interpret it. 
The white-faced girl in White Man’s Dog’s dreams carries two connotations. First and foremost, it foreshadows Yellow Kidney’s rape of the young girl dying of white-scabs disease, but it also represents the dangers posed by European colonialism. The white-faced girl beckons and desires White Man’s Dog, just as the white settlers desire native land and wish to assimilate the native people into white European culture.
Themes
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Related Quotes