Fools Crow

Fools Crow

by

James Welch

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Fools Crow: Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Near the end of winter, three young riders approach the village of the Lone Eaters from the south, driving twelve large horses, like the kind the Napikwans use to pull their wagons. Fast Horse recognizes Owl Child, a member of the Many Chiefs band. Owl Child has a many-shots gun in his lap and a hand gun tucked near his waist. He is an outcast even in his own village, and while he is feared and hated by many, Fast Horse admires his ferocity.
Presumably, Owl Child has stolen the horses and the guns from white settlers—whom he may or may not have also killed. The guns and horses are more of the tangible power that Fast Horse desires. Like Fast Horse, Owl Child does not rely on his spirituality or magic to secure his power; he demands it at gunpoint.
Themes
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
Three Bears comes out of his lodge, and Owl Child asks to feast with them. Three Bears questions the ownership of the horses and suspects that they are stolen from the Napikwans. “What difference does it make?” asks Fast Horse. Since the white man steals their land, Fast Horse considers stealing from the Napikwans fair. Three Bears disagrees. Stealing from the Napikwans will bring trouble. Now that the great war is over in the East, the blue-coat seizers have moved West. The white men have warned Three Bears that if they make life difficult, they will ride against the Lone Eaters.
Like Fast Horse, Owl Child places his own desires ahead of the collective good—robbing the Napikwans is sure bring the Pikunis trouble but he does it anyway. Owl Child is concerned only with expanding his own wealth and making the white settlers pay for stealing his land. He cares very little about what his actions mean for the greater good of the tribe.
Themes
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Three Bears gives Owl Child a package of boiled meat. As the young men ride away, Owl Child invites Fast Horse to visit their camp in the south: “We will show you what real Pikunis do to these sonofabitch whites,” Owl Child says.
Three Bears gives Owl Child the package of boiled meat as a snub. Usually, visitors from outlying bands are invited to feast, but Three Bears refuses to share a meal with Owl Child because of the danger he poses to the tribe.
Themes
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Later, White Man’s Dog visits with Mik-api. Winter is over, and he is excited to go to the trading fort and secure his own many-shots gun. Still, White Man’s Dog thinks about Yellow Kidney and feels that his loss outweighs any benefit of Crow horses. Like the others, White Man’s Dog suspects that Fast Horse is to blame for Yellow Kidney’s disappearance. White Man’s Dog also feels guilty about killing the young rider. He had little choice but to kill, but he is still remorseful about the attack.
White Man’s Dog’s thoughts about Yellow Kidney underscore the obvious downside of warring. Of course Yellow Kidney’s life is not worth the horses that his family gained from the raid, and this in addition to White Man’s Dog’s guilt over killing the rider reinforces Welch’s overall argument that frequent war is an untenable way of life.
Themes
War Theme Icon
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White Man’s Dog tells Mik-api about his dreams of the white-faced girl. After a purifying sweat, Mik-api performs a ceremony over White Man’s Dog’s body. He sings cleansing songs and places a magical paste made of roots and leaves on White Man’s Dog’s body, and then he blows his medicine whistle. With this ceremony, Mik-api drives the bad spirit from White Man’s Dog’s body—but he warns him that it is still floating around the village and can infect another.
This is the second time Mik-api drives a bad spirit from White Man’s Dog’s body (a spirit is also driven from his body during the ceremony involving the yellow war paint). Mik-api’s warning foreshadows upcoming events, but it also underscores the deep spirituality of the Pikunis. Bad spirits are a constant threat and must be dealt with swiftly.
Themes
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
White Man’s Dog asks Mik-api how he became a many-faces man. Mik-api tells him that as a young man, he heard crying by the river. He suspected it was a coyote, and when he went to investigate, he discovered that it was Head Carrier—the very warrior whose shirt Fast Horse now wears—shot through with two arrows.
The story of Head Carrier is further evidence of the power of storytelling within Pikuni culture. Head Carrier lives on long after his death in Mik-api’s stories and in Fast Horse’s connection to his war shirt.
Themes
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Head Carrier told Mik-api to let him die in peace, and Mik-api left him. As he walked along the river, a big frog person came up from the water and asked Mik-api why he seemed so sad. Mik-api told the frog person about the dying Head Carrier. The frog person dove back into the water and resurfaced with a ball of green mud. The mud was given to him by the chief of the Underwater People and had powerful medicine.
Mik-api’s story of Head Carrier is further evidence of the connection between the natural world and Pikuni spirituality. Once again, the natural world is holy, or sacred, and Head Carrier is healed by the magic of the Underwater People.
Themes
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
After Mik-api applied the mud to Head Carrier’s wounds, he made a full recovery. Mik-api later told this story to his aunt, a healing woman, and she informed him that he was a chosen one. She taught him the ways of healing, Mik-api says, and he has been a many-faces man ever since.
Mik-api was chosen by the natural world to fulfil the spiritual needs of his people, and this too highlights the connection between nature and spirituality within Pikuni culture.
Themes
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon