Fools Crow

Fools Crow

by

James Welch

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Fools Crow: Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next day, Rides-at-the-door asks White Man’s Dog about his behavior during Yellow Kidney’s story. White Man’s Dog tells his father that he blames himself for Yellow Kidney’s condition. He had not told him about his dream of the white-faced girl; if he had, he would have taken it as a bad omen and turned the raid back.
White Man’s Dog’s guilt when he neglects to tell Yellow Kidney about his dream is further proof of his dedication to tribal life. White Man’s Dog appreciates that his actions affect others, and he is convinced that he has failed Yellow Kidney by not warning him of the danger in his dream.
Themes
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Rides-at-the-door reassures White Man’s Dog. There is no telling what Yellow Kidney would have done; they were close to Crow land by that time, and he likely would have wanted to go on, he says. Rides-at-the-door tells his son that while he should have told Yellow Kidney about the dream, he must not blame himself.
Rides-at-the-door’s opinion that Yellow Kidney would have continued anyway is probably correct. After all, he ignored several signs along the way. However, this does not absolve White Man’s Dog, and his guilt is proof of this.
Themes
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
White Man’s Dog tells Rides-at-the-door that he initially blamed Fast Horse for Yellow Kidney’s disappearance, but now he is not sure. He tells his father about Mik-api’s ceremony and how the bad spirit of his dream is floating about the village. Rides-at-the-door suspects that the same spirit caused Yellow Kidney to enter the death tipi, but he doesn’t think that it has entered Fast Horse. “No. I think it is the nature of Fast Horse to be loud and boastful and to hurt others. Some men are just like that.” 
Rides-at-the-door’s opinion of Fast Horse firmly establishes him as an inherently bad person. His wickedness, unlike Yellow Kidney’s, is not the work of a bad spirit. Neither White Man’s Dog nor Rides-at-the-door want to believe that Yellow Kidney and Fast Horse are capable of such despicable behavior, and instead they try to explain it as a product of bad spirits. 
Themes
War Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
Meanwhile, White Man’s Dog has been ordered by Three Bears to deliver the news of Yellow Kidney’s return to the outlying Pikuni camps. As Double Strike Woman gives her son instructions for his ride, Striped Face, her sister and Rides-at-the-door’s second wife, braids her hair. Kills-close-to-the-lake cooks and serves them—their husband’s youngest wife is little more than their slave. Double Strike Woman tells White Man’s Dog to “take a good look” at Little Bird Woman, the daughter of her cousin living near the Two Medicine River, while on his ride. She would make him a good wife, and her father, Crow Foot, is a powerful man.
Now that White Man’s Dog has gained wealth and honor through war, it is implied that he will also take his first wife. Similar to Rides-at-the-door and Double Strike Woman’s relationship, White Man’s Dog’s first wife will likely be his “sits-beside-me wife,” his most important wife. This choice represents an important social decision. To Double Strike woman, it is most beneficial to join Crow Foot’s family. 
Themes
War Theme Icon
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White Man’s Dog is not interested in Little Bird Woman, and while Kills-close-to-the-lake frequently looks at him, he is not interested in her either. As White Man’s Dog thinks about Red Paint, Running Fisher rushes into the lodge and tells them that Fast Horse has banished himself and has left camp during the night to join Owl Child and his gang.
When Fast Horse banishes himself, he spares Rides-at-the-door having to convince Boss Ribs to do it himself. This way, Fast Horse is ultimately able to reject his people before they reject him.
Themes
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Rides-at-the-door fears that Fast Horse will be an even bigger problem riding with Owl Child than he would be in camp. They are sure to kill and rob more Napikwans, which will bring the blue-coat seizers to raid Pikuni lands. Running Fisher wants to fight the seizers, but his father warns him that the white man must be left alone. It is better to allow them some of their land to raise whitehorns than to invite war. “It is not an agreeable way, but it is the only way,” says Rides-at-the-door.
Despite his objection to war, Rides-at-the-door is determined to continue the Pikuni way of life at any cost. He knows that the cost will include letting go of more of their land—land which the Pikunis depend on to sustain their way of life. If they are to continue as a people, they must keep some land. If they fight, they are sure to lose it all. 
Themes
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
War Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
As White Man’s Dog leaves for his journey, Running Fisher notices how his brother has changed. Now, he envies White Man’s Dog and does not pity him. Running Fisher notices Kills-close-to-the-lake hand White Man’s Dog a package of meat and touch him softly on the shoulder. He notices a quick glance between the two and looks up to see Striped Face smiling at him.
Running Fisher’s envy of White Man’s Dog foreshadows the future resentment he feels for his brother. Running Fisher is jealous of White Man’s Dog’s war success, and he is suspicious of his near-mother’s behavior. It is not socially appropriate for Kills-close-to-the-lake to touch White Man’s Dog.
Themes
War Theme Icon
Over the next few days, White Man’s Dog visits three Pikuni bands: the Black Doors, the Small Robes, and Crow Foot’s people. He sees Little Bird Woman, and while she is a fine woman, White Man’s Dog thinks only of Red Paint. That night under the stars, he lifts his hands to the sky and remembers the stories his grandfather told him about the origins of the constellations. In the stories there was only the people, the stars, and blackhorns. Now the people are different; the white man is moving in, and White Man’s Dog fears the worst. He remembers his grandfather telling him that if he sleeps with his palms out and a star falls on them, he will be a powerful man.
Pikuni culture is rooted in stories, and the stories handed down from White Man’s Dog’s grandfather are examples of this. These stories serve to reflect their traditional lives and beliefs—the stars represent Pikuni spirituality and the blackhorns are symbolic of their deep connection to nature. Stories like these are vital to the preservation of the Pikuni way of life, and they are a source of power for White Man’s Dog.
Themes
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
The next day, White Man’s Dog visits the Black Patched Moccasins near the Bear River. The band had previously been the most powerful, and their leader, Little Dog, was the head chief of all the Pikunis. White Man’s Dog rides through their camp, which is a shell of its former glory. Tipis are falling, and children wander unattended as rotting meat litters the paths.
The unkept state of the Black Patched Moccasins’ camp serves as a warning of what happens when the Napikwans get too close. Muck like Rides-at-the-door, Little Dog favored peace and trading with the Napikwans; inevitably, the settlers took too much, leading to the devastation of the camp. 
Themes
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
White Man’s Dog arrives at the lodge of Mad Plume, who presents the Otter Medicine bundle at the Sun Dance. Mad Plume notices White Man’s Dog looking about the camp in disbelief and tells him that they were once proud people. Mad Plume says the white chiefs had come to camp and taught the Black Patched Moccasins how to plant seeds in the ground to grow food. They wanted them to stop hunting blackhorns and farm instead. The crops were scrawny and the people hungry, so they went back to hunting. This led to unrest between the Moccasins and the Napikwans, who want the land to farm and raise whitehorn cattle.
The Otter Medicine bundle, like the Beaver Medicine bundle, is a source of great Pikuni power, but both bundles prove powerless against the invading Napikwans. Just as many Pikunis have already noted, they will lose no matter what they do. War with the seizers means instant death, but assimilation to Napikwan ways is a slow—and significantly more painful—death. This belief is reflected in the Pikunis’ resistance and return to blackhorn hunting against the Napikwans’ wishes.
Themes
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
War Theme Icon
Little Dog tried to make peace with the Napikwans and refused to fight. He dealt harshly with Pikunis who offended the Napikwans and assisted the Napikwans when he was able. One day, Little Dog was killed by his own people, and since then, the Black Patched Moccasins have been distrustful people.
The Black Patched Moccasins are distrustful of people because their chief, the very person who is supposed to always act on behalf of the tribe’s best interest, betrayed them. Since they could not trust their chief, it is difficult for them to trust anybody.
Themes
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
White Man’s Dog suspects that Mad Plume condones the killing of Little Dog. The people felt that Little Dog had put the needs of the Napikwans ahead of the needs of the Pikunis, and he had betrayed his own people. Mad Plume tells White Man’s Dog that they are leaderless now and that most of the young people selfishly hunt and drink white man’s water. “There is no center here,” he says.   
Since the Blacked Patched Moccasins have lost their chief, or their “center,” each member of the band acts in their best interest only, and the tribe as whole suffers. Their camp and their lives are in shambles because, like Little Dog, they have ignored the collective needs of the tribe. 
Themes
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
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