Fools Crow

Fools Crow

by

James Welch

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The Beaver Medicine Bundle Symbol Analysis

The Beaver Medicine Bundle Symbol Icon

The Beaver Medicine bundle is a bag of totems and objects that collectively represent over four hundred songs and prayers associated with the sacred wood-biter. The songs and prayers fulfill the spiritual needs of the Lone Eaters, and the bundle itself is symbolic of the strength and power of the Pikuni people. The Beaver Medicine bundle is the oldest and holiest medicine of the Blackfeet Indians. Only three such bundles exist, one of which is possessed by Boss Ribs, a heavy-singer-for-the-sick and member of the Lone Eaters’ band. Fast Horse, Boss Ribs’s son, sits and stares at the Beaver Medicine bundle and tries to harness its power when he feels lost after his actions lead to Yellow Kidney’s abduction and torture by the Crows. Later, Boss Ribs hopes to strengthen and renew Fast Horse’s place in the tribe after he banishes himself by teaching him the songs and prayers of the bundle. Boss Ribs also turns to the bundle for power when the white-scabs disease devastates the Lone Eaters’ camp and threatens their very existence. Like the Pikunis themselves, the Beaver Medicine bundle is powerless against the deadly virus, and as Boss Ribs removes the totems from the bundle, the empty bag is symbolic of the Pikunis’ hopelessness.

The Beaver Medicine Bundle Quotes in Fools Crow

The Fools Crow quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Beaver Medicine Bundle. 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 8 Quotes

But all that had changed now because Fast Horse had changed. He had become an outsider within his own band. He no longer sought the company of others, and they avoided him. The girls who had once looked so admiringly on him now averted their eyes when he passed. The young men considered him a source of bad medicine, and the older ones did not invite him for a smoke. Even his own father had begun to look upon him with doubt and regret. As for Fast Horse, the more he stared at the Beaver Medicine, the more it lost meaning for him. That would not be the way of his power. His power would be tangible and immediate.

Related Characters: Fast Horse, Boss Ribs
Related Symbols: The Beaver Medicine Bundle
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Beaver Medicine Bundle Symbol Timeline in Fools Crow

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Beaver Medicine Bundle appears in Fools Crow. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
...is hesitant to join the party. He does not have Fast Horse’s medicine (his father’s Beaver Medicine bundle is the most powerful among the Pikunis), and White Man’s Dog’s own animal helper... (full context)
Chapter 4
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
...has great respect for Fast Horse’s father, Boss Ribs, a powerful heavy-singer-for-the-sick who possesses a Beaver Medicine bundle. Only three bundles exist among the Blackfeet tribes; the one possessed by Boss Ribs,... (full context)
Chapter 8
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
...Eaters are to leave for the trading house, Fast Horse sits staring at his father’s Beaver Medicine bundle, hoping to feel its power. Boss Ribs has not yet taught his son the... (full context)
Chapter 16
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
...Ribs wants to teach Fast Horse the four hundred songs and ceremonies associated with the Beaver Medicine bundle. Boss Ribs reminds his son that “there is no room for a man who... (full context)
Chapter 17
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
...the camp of the Lone Eaters for good. He has no desire to learn the Beaver Medicine bundle, and he has grown disillusioned with the Lone Eaters’ lifestyle. “There are easier ways... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Fools Crow sits in Boss Ribs’s lodge and stares at the Beaver Medicine bundle. “[It] is the oldest and holiest of our medicines,” Boss Ribs says, and then... (full context)
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
...back,” Boss Ribs says. “I will begin to instruct him in the ways of the Beaver Medicine . He will learn that it is his destiny as well as his duty. Tell... (full context)
Chapter 20
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
...Horse that Boss Ribs begs him to come home and learn the ceremonies of the Beaver Medicine bundle. (full context)
Chapter 34
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
Dreams, Visions, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
On the fifth day of the outbreak, Fools Crow finds Boss Ribs staring at the Beaver Medicine bundle, which has been emptied of most of its contents. “Are we lost then?” asks... (full context)