Fools Crow

Fools Crow


James Welch

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White Man’s Dog/Fools Crow

A young Pikuni of the Lone Eaters’ band and the protagonist of Fools Crow. He is also the son of Rides-at-the-door and Double Strike Woman, the brother of Running Fisher, and eventual… read analysis of White Man’s Dog/Fools Crow

Fast Horse

A young Pikuni warrior of the Lone Eaters’ band and the antagonist of Fools Crow. He is the son of Boss Ribs and a member of Owl Child’s gang of outcasts. Fast Horse… read analysis of Fast Horse

Yellow Kidney

A respected warrior of the Lone Eaters’ band and husband to Heavy Shield Woman. He is also the father of Red Paint, One Spot, and Good Young Man, and eventual father-in-law… read analysis of Yellow Kidney


Father to Fools Crow and Running Fisher, and husband to Double Strike Woman, Striped Face, and Kills-close-to-the-lake. Rides-at-the-door is a respected war chief of the Lone Eaters and has a special… read analysis of Rides-at-the-door

Red Paint

The daughter of Yellow Kidney and Heavy Shield Woman, and the eventual wife of Fools Crow. She is also the sister of One Spot and Good Young Man. Red Paint is young… read analysis of Red Paint
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Owl Child

A Pikuni warrior and member of the Many Chiefs band. A violent outcast, Owl Child is rejected by many in his own band and by the Pikunis as a whole. He forms a gang of… read analysis of Owl Child


Rides-at-the-door’s third wife and near-mother to Fools Crow and Running Fisher. Kills-close-to-the-lake is a young and beautiful girl from a poor family of the Never Laughs People, and Rides-at-the-door marries her as a… read analysis of Kills-close-to-the-lake


The many-faces man of the Lone Eaters’ band. Mik-api is the physical and spiritual healer of his tribe, and he takes Fools Crow on as his apprentice. He is first taught the art of healing… read analysis of Mik-api

Heavy Shield Woman

Yellow Kidney’s wife and mother to Red Paint, Good Young Man, and One Spot. When Yellow Kidney disappears during the horse raid on the Crows, Heavy Shield Woman pledges to take… read analysis of Heavy Shield Woman

Boss Ribs

A heavy-singer-for-the-sick and Fast Horse’s father. Like Mik-api, Boss Ribs tends to the physical and spiritual needs of the band, and he is the keeper of the Beaver Medicine bundle, a bag… read analysis of Boss Ribs

Three Bears

Chief of the Lone Eaters’ band. Three Bears is a harsh but fair leader, and after Fast Horse is found responsible for Yellow Kidney’s capture and torture by the Crows, Three Bears advocates to… read analysis of Three Bears

Running Fisher

Fools Crow’s brother and Rides-at-the-door’s son. When Running Fisher is first introduced, he is a promising young Pikuni, and his father sees him as an honorable warrior-in-the-making. On his first war raid, however… read analysis of Running Fisher

So-at-sa-ki/Feather Woman

The mortal Pikuni wife of Morning Star, a Pikuni deity, and mother to Star Boy. According to Pikuni legend, Feather Woman is banished back to earth along with her son by Sun Chiefread analysis of So-at-sa-ki/Feather Woman

Star Boy/Poia/Mistake Morning Star

The son of Morning Star, a Pikuni deity, and So-at-sa-ki, a mortal Pikuni woman. Star Boy is banished to earth by his grandfather, Sun Chief, along with his mother after she digs… read analysis of Star Boy/Poia/Mistake Morning Star

Eagle Ribs

An experienced horse-taker and warrior of the Lone Eaters band, and a member of Yellow Kidney’s horse raiding party against the Crow. He is a talented scouter and can slip in and out of… read analysis of Eagle Ribs

Malcolm Clark/Four Bears

A Napikwan whitehorn rancher and husband to Cutting-off-head Woman. Malcolm Clark catches Owl Child stealing his ho rses and slaps him, embarrassing him in front of his people. Owl Child swears revenge and later… read analysis of Malcolm Clark/Four Bears

Bull Shield

Chief of the Crow Indians. Bull Shield chops off Yellow Kidney’s fingers as a warning to other Pikunis after he is caught raiding the Crows’ camp, and he is later killed by Fools Crowread analysis of Bull Shield

Skunk Bear

A wolverine and Fools Crow’s spirit animal. Only the grizzly bear is more powerful than Skunk Bear, and Fools Crow is endowed with the power of the wolverine. Skunk Bear also bites of Kills-close-to-the-lakeread analysis of Skunk Bear

Double Strike Woman

Rides-at-the-door’s sits-beside-him wife and mother to Fools Crow and Running Fisher. Double Strike Woman is also the sister of Striped Face, Rides-at-the-door’s second wife. She comes from the northern Siksikas tribe, and… read analysis of Double Strike Woman

One Spot

Yellow Kidney and Heavy Shield Woman’s son and younger brother to Red Paint and Good Young Man. Fools Crow saves One Spot’s life when he is mauled by a rabid wolf, and he… read analysis of One Spot


Mik-api’s spirit animal. He also assists Fools Crow and helps him find Skunk Bear, Fools Crow’s own spirit animal. Raven often speaks through Mik-api to guide Fools Crow as he searches for a… read analysis of Raven

Fox Eyes

A powerful Pikuni Warrior. Fox Eyes fights alongside Fools Crow and Rides-at-the-door when they attack the Crows and avenge Yellow Kidney’s capture. Fox Eyes is a highly respected warrior among the Pikunis, although he… read analysis of Fox Eyes

Joe Kipp

An Indian half-breed who knows the Pikuni language. Joe Kipp brings John Gates and Captain Snelling to the Lone Eaters’ camp in search of Mountain Chief and Owl Child in connection to Malcolm Clark’s… read analysis of Joe Kipp


One of the orphan brothers associated with the story that Boss Ribs tells Fools Crow about the history of the Beaver Medicine bundle. The wife of Akaiyan’s brother, Nopatsis, grows tired of her… read analysis of Akaiyan


One of the orphan brothers associated with the story of the Beaver Medicine bundle. In Pikuni legend, Nopatsis’s wife grows tired of his brother, Akaiyan, and after falsely accusing him of abuse, Nopatsis… read analysis of Nopatsis

Heavy Runner

A Pikuni chief who advocates for peace with the Napikwans. Heavy Runner goes to the Four Horns agency with a few other Pikuni chiefs and Rides-at-the-door to negotiate peace after Owl Child kills trader… read analysis of Heavy Runner

General Sully

The Napikwan in charge of Indian policy on behalf of the United States government in the Montana Territory. General Sully issues an arrest warrant for Owl Child for the murder of Malcolm Clark, and… read analysis of General Sully


A white man and heavy-singer-for-the-sick, presumably a doctor, for his own people. Sturgis marries a Pikuni woman who later dies of the white-scabs disease, and he visits the Lone Eaters’ camp with Pretty-on-top to… read analysis of Sturgis
Minor Characters
Mountain Chief
The chief of the Many Chiefs band of Pikunis. The blue-coat seizers hold Mountain Chief responsible for Owl Child’s killing of Malcolm Clark, and they search for him throughout much of the novel. Mountain Chief evades the seizers, running north of the Canadian border.
Striped Face
Rides-at-the-door’s second wife and Double Strike Woman’s sister. Striped Face discovers Kills-close-to-the-lake and Running Fisher’s affair and tells her husband about their dishonor.
Good Young Man
Yellow Kidney and Heavy Shield Woman’s son and brother to Red Paint and One Spot. Good Young Man dies from the white-scabs disease.
Head Carrier
A famous Pikuni warrior whose life Mik-api saves with the medicine of the frog people, prompting Mik-api to become a many-faces man. Fast Horse wears an old war shirt belonging to Head Carrier to give him power during the horse raid on the Crows.
Little Bird Woman
The daughter of Crow Foot and the girl Fools Crow’s mother would have him marry instead of Red Paint. Little Bird Woman ultimately marries the son of a great chief, and Fools Crow sees her in the yellow hide belonging to Feather Woman, clinging to a bucket of intestines.
Crow Foot
Double Strike Woman’s cousin and Little Bird Woman’s father. Crow Foot is the powerful chief of an outlying Pikuni band.
Little Dog
The former chief of the Black Patched Moccasin band. Little Dog is killed by his own people after he betrays them by placing the Napikwans before the needs of his tribe.
Mad Plume
A member of the Black Patched Moccasins. Mad Plume tells Fools Crow about the murder of Little Dog, the former chief of the Black Patched Moccasins, at the hands of his own people.
A Pikuni Indian from an outlying band who visits the Lone Eaters’ camp with Sturgis, a white man and doctor, to tell them about the magic “juice” that keeps them from getting the white-scabs disease.
White Grass Woman
The Lone Eaters’ camp gossip and wife of Skunk Cap. White Grass Woman tells Fools Crow’s mother, Heavy Shield Woman, that her son has gone off to look for Fast Horse on behalf of Boss Ribs.
Skunk Cap
The husband of White Grass Woman, the Lone Eaters’ camp gossip.
Lone Medicine Person
A Pikuni war chief who is killed during the raid on the Crows to avenge Yellow Kidney’s abduction and torture.
Fools Crow and Red Paint’s infant son.
A white trader and owner of the trading houses frequented by the Lone Eaters. Riplinger gifts Rides-at-the-door a many-shots gun, which he in turn gives to Fools Crow when he marries Red Paint.
White Grass
An enemy warrior of the Pikuni, killed three years earlier by Fox Eyes during a battle.
Mad Wolf
Kills-close-to-the-lake’s father and member of the Never Laughs People.
Cutting-off-head Woman
Malcolm Clark’s wife.
John Gates
One of the Napikwans who, along with Captain Snelling, accompanies Joe Kipp to the Lone Eaters’ camp in search of Mountain Chief and Owl Child in connection to the murder of Malcolm Clark.
Captain Snelling
One of the Napikwans who, along with John Gates, accompanies Joe Kipp to the Lone Eaters’ camp in search of Mountain Chief and Owl Child in connection to the murder of Malcolm Clark.