Fools Crow

Fools Crow

by

James Welch

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Yellow Kidney Character Analysis

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 to Fools Crow. Yellow Kidney organizes the horse raid on the enemy Crows, and after Fast Horse boasts loudly in the center of camp, Yellow Kidney is captured by the Crows. Before they find him, however, Yellow Kidney hides in a darkened lodge and rapes a young girl suffering from the white-scabs disease. Bull Shield chops off Yellow Kidney’s fingers as a warning to other Pikunis, and straps him to a ragged horse, turning him out in the wilderness to die. He is later taken in by the Spotted Horse People, who nurse him back to health after he also falls ill with the white-scabs disease. He eventually makes it back to the Lone Eaters’ camp but is a shell of his former self. In his disfigured and disgraced state, he can no longer hunt or war and feels he has been sentenced to a life worse than death as his punishment for raping the young girl and stealing her virtue. The remainder of Yellow Kidney’s life is plagued by his shame, and his relationships with his wife and children suffer, yet he does begin to show signs of life. He fashions a sling and trigger-pull that allows him to again shoot his gun, and while every task takes more time, he learns that he is still able to do most things. Sadly, Yellow Kidney’s realization comes too late, and after abandoning his family, he is shot and killed in an empty war lodge by a Napikwan looking to kill an Indian for spot. Fast Horse finds his body and anonymously returns him to his people. While Yellow Kidney’s life and death are tragic, he is a powerful example of the resilience of the Pikuni people. His life seems hopeless, and it appears as if he has been beat, but he is able to find a way to continue living his way of life—even if it must be adapted.

Yellow Kidney Quotes in Fools Crow

The Fools Crow quotes below are all either spoken by Yellow Kidney or refer to Yellow Kidney. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Fools Crow published in 1986.
Chapter 3 Quotes

Yellow Kidney watched the young men as they chopped down some small spear-leaf trees. These are good human beings, he thought, not like Owl Child and his bunch. His face grew dark as he thought this. He had been hearing around the Pikunis that Owl Child and his gang had been causing trouble with the Napikwans, driving away horses and cattle, and had recently killed a party of woodcutters near Many Houses fort. It would be only a matter of time before the Napikwans sent their seizers to make war on the Pikunis. The people would suffer greatly.

Related Characters: Yellow Kidney, Owl Child
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

[White Man’s Dog] pulled back the entrance skin and saw several dark shapes around the perimeter of the lodge. As his eyes adjusted, he saw that the shapes weren’t breathing. Then, opposite him, of the shapes lifted its sleeping robe and he saw that it was a young white-faced girl. She beckoned to him, and in fright he turned to leave. But as he turned away he looked back and saw that the girl’s eyes desired him. Then all the dark shapes began to move and he saw that they were all young girls, naked and with the same look in their eyes. The white-faced girl stood and held out her arms and White Man’s Dog moved toward her. It was at this point that he would wake up.

Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

[White Man’s Dog] prayed to Sun Chief, who watched over the Pikunis and all the things of this world. Then he dropped his head and made a vow. He vowed that if he was successful and returned home unharmed, he would sacrifice before the Medicine Pole at the next Sun Dance. Finally, he sang his war song, his voice low and distinct. When he lifted his head he saw that the other men had painted their faces. Yellow Kidney had painted the left half of his face white with a series of small blue dots in a familiar pattern. Seven Persons, thought White Man’s Dog.

Related Symbols: Seven Persons
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

“I have had a bad dream and it troubles me. I came and went so fast, I could make little of it. In my dream I saw a small white horse wandering in the snow. Its hooves were split and it had sores all over. It was wearing a bridle and the reins trailed after it. But it was the eyes. I looked into the eyes and they were white and unseeing. As I drew closer I saw across its back fingers of blood.”

Related Characters: Eagle Ribs (speaker), Yellow Kidney
Page Number: 35-6
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

White Man’s Dog had settled down into the routine of the winter camp but there were days when he longed to travel, to experience the excitement of entering enemy country. Sometimes he even thought of looking for Yellow Kidney. In some ways he felt responsible, at least partially so, for the horse-taker’s disappearance. When he slept he tried to will himself to dream about Yellow Kidney. Once he dreamed about Red Old Man’s Butte and the war lodge there, but Yellow Kidney was not in it. The country between the Two Medicine River and the Crow camp on the Bighorn was as vast as the sky, and to try to find one man, without a sign, would be impossible. And so he waited for a sign.

Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

“[…] It was there, that day while looking at my scars and my hands, that I knew why I had been punished so severely. As you men of the warrior societies know, in all things, to the extent of my ability, I have tried to act honorably. But there in that Crow lodge, in that lodge of death, I had broken one of the simplest decencies by which people live. In fornicating with the dying girl, I had taken her honor, her opportunity to die virtuously. I have taken the path traveled only by the meanest scavengers. And so Old Man, as he created me, took away my life many times and left me like this, worse than dead, to think of my transgression every day, to be reminded every time I attempt the smallest act that men take for granted.”

Related Characters: Yellow Kidney (speaker)
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

In six days White Man’s Dog would ride with the war party against the Crows. As she rubbed her neck and looked off to the Sweet Grass Hills, she felt again the dread that came whenever she allowed herself to think. She had tried to stay busy, but even a momentary lapse in concentration allowed that dreaded thought to steal through her whole body. She knew that war parties were part of a man’s life and she knew that she should be proud that White Man’s Dog had been selected to count coup on behalf of her father, Yellow Kidney. But it was because of Yellow Kidney that she felt so fearful.

Page Number: 131
Explanation and Analysis:
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Yellow Kidney Character Timeline in Fools Crow

The timeline below shows where the character Yellow Kidney appears in Fools Crow. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
War Theme Icon
...Horse teases him tirelessly because he doesn’t have a woman. Fast Horse tells him about Yellow Kidney ’s plan to lead a party against the Crow horses. The Crow, already threatened by... (full context)
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
War Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
Fast Horse says that Yellow Kidney has invited him on the raid because he has strong medicine, which his father inherited... (full context)
Chapter 3
War Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
Yellow Kidney looks up to Seven Persons as he waits for Fast Horse and White Man’s Dog.... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
War Theme Icon
Yellow Kidney is the only member of the party who has a many-shots gun; the others are... (full context)
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
As they walk, Yellow Kidney leads the men in the direction of Red Old Man’s Butte, where he knows of... (full context)
War Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
Chapter 4
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
...Woman Don’t Walk Butte and Eagle Ribs goes out to scout for enemy war parties. Yellow Kidney , who is beginning to feel his thirty-eight winters, rests while the younger men go... (full context)
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Yellow Kidney still questions Fast Horse’s dream. He thinks that the young man is foolish, and Yellow... (full context)
War Theme Icon
The men return without finding the ice spring and Fast Horse grows morose. Yellow Kidney can sense that even Fast Horse doubts his dream, and Yellow Kidney prays to Cold... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
War Theme Icon
...there is violence. The men are only two sleeps away from the Crow camps, and Yellow Kidney tells Eagle Ribs his plan to take the camp of Bull Shield, the Crow chief,... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
Yellow Kidney is becoming infected with the nerves of the other men. The younger men are nervous... (full context)
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
...next Sun Dance if the raid is successful, and he quietly sings his war song. Yellow Kidney too paints his face in the pattern of Seven Persons, and Fast Horse ties three... (full context)
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
Yellow Kidney and the other men are distracted by Fast Horse’s shirt—it is the old war shirt... (full context)
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
...Seven Persons at its highest point, the party makes their way toward the Crow camp. Yellow Kidney points out the Crow horses and instructs White Man’s Dog to take the other young... (full context)
War Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Yellow Kidney , Fast Horse, and Eagle Ribs ready themselves to enter the Crow camp. They plan... (full context)
Chapter 5
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
...Man’s Dog has again dreamt of the white-faced girl, and he is growing concerned because Yellow Kidney and Fast Horse have not yet returned. Eagle Ribs has found the young men near... (full context)
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Eagle Ribs hopes that Yellow Kidney and Fast Horse are simply waiting out the weather, but he tells the other men... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
...that night, Fast Horse arrives and tells the other men that he has not seen Yellow Kidney since the raid. After stealing his own buffalo-runner, Fast Horse and taken refuge in a... (full context)
War Theme Icon
...camp of the Lone Eaters. Eagle Ribs divides the horses up between the men, giving Yellow Kidney (or his widow) the most. White Man’s Dog returns home to his family. His mother,... (full context)
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
Three days later, Heavy Shield Woman, Yellow Kidney ’s wife, emerges from her lodge having cut her hair, slashed her arms and legs,... (full context)
Chapter 6
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
...the routine of winter, but he longs for excitement and adventure. He considers looking for Yellow Kidney , but he knows finding him without a sign will be impossible. Instead, White Man’s... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
...going on inside of him. White Man’s Dog suspects that it has to do with Yellow Kidney . (full context)
Chapter 7
War Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 8
War Theme Icon
...camp on a scarred and scrawny white horse. The figure takes off his robe—it is Yellow Kidney , holding up fingerless hands. Yellow Kidney quickly begins to tell his story. When he... (full context)
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
The crowd looks to Eagle Ribs, but Yellow Kidney says that it was not his voice. They look for Fast Horse, and he is... (full context)
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
War Theme Icon
The tipi was cold, yet the girl was hot, and Yellow Kidney found himself aroused. He raped her, although he found it difficult because she was not... (full context)
War Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
Yellow Kidney tells them that he ran out of the tipi and was shot in the thigh... (full context)
War Theme Icon
Now, Yellow Kidney is a disgraced and ruined warrior. He tells the crowd that living in this broken... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
...Three Bears approaches Rides-at-the-door. The chief noticed White Man’s Dog leaving in the middle of Yellow Kidney ’s story, and he wants to know why. Rides-at-the-door is ashamed that White Man’s Dog... (full context)
Chapter 9
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
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... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
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... (full context)
War Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World 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... (full context)
War 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... (full context)
Chapter 10
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Later, Mik-api tells White Man’s Dog that he has recently been to Yellow Kidney ’s lodge and that he has expressed his gratefulness over White Man’s Dog kindness to... (full context)
War Theme Icon
...strong match. Plus, if White Man’s Dog marries Red Paint, he must take care of Yellow Kidney as well. Rides-at-the-door gives his son permission to marry Red Paint. Kills-close-to-the-lake sits nearby, never... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
...and to the four directions. As she prays, her mind drifts, and she thinks of Yellow Kidney . Since his return, she feels only pity for him, and he no longer shows... (full context)
Chapter 11
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
...her daughter the ceremony has affected her much like childbirth, and then she says that Yellow Kidney has recently fashioned a harness for his right hand. With it he can hold his... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Heavy Shield Woman says that Yellow Kidney has changed since he returned from the raid. He no longer expresses any love for... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
Mik-api has told Heavy Shield Woman that he can drive the bad spirit from Yellow Kidney , but her husband must be willing. Now, she says, Yellow Kidney is content to... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
War Theme Icon
...he is a warrior and it is his duty to fight and get revenge for Yellow Kidney . The couple talks about their baby, and Red Paint says that she would like... (full context)
War Theme Icon
...safe, and he tells the warriors that White Man’s Dog will ride in place of Yellow Kidney and draw first blood. Fox Eyes thinks back to killing White Grass. He had hated... (full context)
War Theme Icon
...Bull Shield. “His is the head that will be cut off so that our friend Yellow Kidney may sleep well in his lodge,” he says. (full context)
Chapter 20
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Back at the Lone Eaters’ camp, Yellow Kidney watches his sons, Good Young Man and One Spot, play. He looks at his hands... (full context)
War Theme Icon
Yellow Kidney thinks about the camp of the Spotted Horse People who took him in after he... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
War Theme Icon
...failed to keep his word. Fast Horse says that he has offended Cold Maker, but Yellow Kidney was captured because he was foolish and shouldn’t have entered the camp. “He was a... (full context)
Chapter 21
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
Yellow Kidney strikes a flint to steal in an effort to light some moss. He has been... (full context)
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
War Theme Icon
Yellow Kidney sits in the war lodge roasting a rabbit he killed earlier that day. He has... (full context)
Chapter 22
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
...father; she would like him to name the child during the naming ceremony. Now, however, Yellow Kidney has been gone for sixteen sleeps, and she regrets not telling him sooner. He would... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
...age, and his dream is incomplete. Still, he senses the dream has to do with Yellow Kidney , and Mik-api has a bad feeling. Mik-api doesn’t tell Red Paint about his dreams.... (full context)
Chapter 32
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
...his father that he lost his courage the day they invaded the Crows to avenge Yellow Kidney . Sun Chief hiding his face had terrified him, and instead of entering the village... (full context)
Chapter 34
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
...to her lodge, defeated. She can’t stop thinking about her father. When the men brought Yellow Kidney ’s body to the camp, her mother had appeared emotionless. She feels guilty over her... (full context)