Fools Crow

Fools Crow


James Welch

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The Above Ones

The collective sky Gods worshipped by the Pikuni people, often depicted as the stars and constellations. When praying, the Pikunis give thanks to the Above Ones, the Below Ones, and the Underwater Peopleread analysis of The Above Ones

The Below Ones

The collective Gods of the earth worshipped by the Pikuni people, usually depicted as different spirit animals. The Pikunis pray to the Below Ones, as well as to the Above Ones and the Underwater Peopleread analysis of The Below Ones


The Pikuni term for buffalo. Blackhorns are a staple in Pikuni life and are the Lone Eaters’ main source of food. The Pikuni people harvest and utilize each part of the blackhorn—including the hair for… read analysis of Blackhorn

Blue-coat seizers

The United States military. At the climax of the novel, the seizers open fire on a non-hostile Pikuni camp, resulting in the Marias Massacre, a historical event in which nearly two hundred innocent Pikunis are… read analysis of Blue-coat seizers


A strong and powerful horse used by the Pikunis to hunt blackhorns. Buffalo-runners are usually stolen during horse raids and are a symbol of wealth and status within Pikuni communities. read analysis of Buffalo-runner
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Day Star

Another Pikuni term for the sun. When the Lone Eaters attack the Crows’ camp to avenge Yellow Kidney, the warriors witness a solar eclipse, in which “Day Star hides his face.” The Pikuni people… read analysis of Day Star

Healing woman

A medicine woman and the spiritual and physical healer of the sick. Mik-api’s aunt, a healing woman in the Never Laughs band, is the one who teaches him the ways of healing. read analysis of Healing woman


A spiritual and physical healer of the Pikuni people, like a many-faces man, only not as powerful. Boss Ribs is a heavy-singer-for-the-sick. read analysis of Heavy-singer-for-the-sick

Many-faces man

A medicine man and the physical and spiritual healer of the Pikunis. Mik-api is a many-faces man, and Fools Crow is his apprentice. Healing is usually accomplished with a combination of prayers, ceremonies, and medicines… read analysis of Many-faces man

Many-shots gun

The repeating rifle, which is brought to the Montana Territory by the Napikwans during westward expansion. The repeating rifle changes how the Pikunis hunt and war, and because of it, they are no longer solely… read analysis of Many-shots gun

Medicine Woman/Sacred Vow Woman

A spiritual position taken on by one Pikuni woman during the annual summer ceremony. If a Sacred Vow Woman is found to be virtuous, then the people will prosper; if not, then the people… read analysis of Medicine Woman/Sacred Vow Woman

Morning Star

The son of Sun Chief and Red Night Light, the husband of Feather Woman, and the father of Poia. Depicted as a star constellation that appears right before dawn. read analysis of Morning Star


The Pikuni word for the white settlers. As Napikwans move West and invade Pikuni territory, they effectively push the Lone Eaters off their ancestral land. After the Civil War, a massive influx of white settlers… read analysis of Napikwans

Night Red Light

The spiritual entity associated with the moon; also Sun Chief’s wife and Morning Star’s mother. Within Pikuni spirituality, Night Red Light warns her daughter-in-law, Feather Woman, not to dig up the sacred… read analysis of Night Red Light

Old Man, Napi

The primary spiritual entity and creator of the Pikuni people. The Pikunis frequently pray and smoke to Old Man. read analysis of Old Man, Napi


The Pikuni term for grizzly bear. Only the real-bear is more powerful than the wolverine, Fools Crow’s spirit animal. read analysis of Real-bear


The Pikuni afterlife and the home of the Sand Hills. After death, the Pikuni people believe that the spirit goes to the Shadowland, where they live in eternal happiness with their ancestors. read analysis of Shadowland

Sun Chief

The spiritual entity associated with the sun; also Night Red Light’s husband and Morning Star’s father. Sun Chief banishes Feather Woman, Morning Star’s wife, back to earth after she digs up the… read analysis of Sun Chief

Sun Dance ceremony/summer ceremony

An annual ceremony in honor of Sun Chief. The summer ceremony was given to the Pikuni people by Poia, or Scar Face, Feather Woman and Morning Star’s son, so that humankind would… read analysis of Sun Dance ceremony/summer ceremony

The Underwater People

The collective Gods of the water worshipped by the Pikuni people, commonly depicted as fish, frogs, or slippery swimmers. Usually, the Pikuni people pray to the Underwater People along with the Above Ones and theread analysis of The Underwater People


The Pikuni term for cattle. The Napikwans raise whitehorn cattle on the Pikunis’ land, which negatively impacts the blackhorn population. With less room to roam, the blackhorns move away from Pikuni lands. The Napikwans want… read analysis of Whitehorn

White-scabs disease

The Pikuni term for smallpox. Napikwans bring the white-scabs disease with them as they move westward, and the virus is responsible for killing more than half of the Pikuni people. The Pikunis learn of a… read analysis of White-scabs disease


The Pikuni term for beaver. Boss Ribs, a heavy-singer-for-the-sick, possesses a Beaver Medicine bundle, the oldest and holiest medicine of the Pikuni people. read analysis of Wood-biter

White man’s water

The Pikuni term for alcohol, usually whiskey. Napikwans trade and run illegal whiskey westward along the Whiskey Trail to Canada. The Pikunis claim that white man’s water makes their enemies “lazy,” and it is the… read analysis of White man’s water