Fools Crow Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 43 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Fools Crow.
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Fools Crow Summary & Study Guide Description

Fools Crow Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Fools Crow by James Welch (poet).

Fools Crow is a story of dreams, honor, loss and changes. It is a coming of age story that takes place amid hardships beyond anything the Pikunis (part of the Blackfeet tribe) have faced in the past due to the encroachment of the Napikwans (white man).

Eighteen-year-old White Man's Dog, who later earns the name Fools Crow when he gains war honors, is a Pikunis brave who struggles with his place in society. Without wealth, no woman finds him attractive as a husband. He has prayed to the "Above Ones" for stronger medicine, but decides that it is up to him to find his power. If he can get a "many-shots-gun" it can increase his wealth. He daydreams of the pleasure of many wives but has never touched a woman. Because of this, his friends make fun of him.

White Man's Dog's friend Fast Horse invites him to take part in a horse-taking raid. This venture becomes the springboard to the rest of the story, for on this journey White Man's Dog has a dream of a white-faced girl, while Cold Maker visits Fast Horse in a dream. Both dreams warn that the group should not continue. Fast Horse tells his dream, but Yellow Kidney does not trust the dream and decides to continue. The meaning of White Man's Dog's dream does not become clear until it is fulfilled when Yellow Kidney finds himself in a lodge filled with bodies of those with the white-scab disease (smallpox). This fateful raid changes lives forever. White Man's Dog returns home with honor, Fast Horse returns sullen and vexed, and Yellow Kidney finally returns home after a long absence without his fingers, his body pock-marked from the white scab disease.

When Yellow Kidney tells how Fast Horse's loud-mouth boasting led to his capture, Fast Horse quits camp and joins up with Owl Child before he can be banished. The band of young men who follow Owl Child are tired of nothing being done about the Napikwans who break their word. Owl Child's band kills, rapes, and steals from the Napikwans. Their actions stir up trouble for the rest of the peace-loving Pikunis.

Dreams fuel the plot of this story. Through dreams, Fools Crow sees that fighting the Napikwans is a necessary evil. For in his dream with the white landscape void of animal life, the white represents the Napikwans taking over their lands and no animal life represents the white man's senseless killing of their food sources. When Raven appears in a dream, he tells Fools Crow that he must kill the big Napikwan who kills animals needlessly. Fools Crow objects, but Raven convinces him that it is for the good of his people. He agrees and uses his wife to bait the large white man. The plan succeeds but Fools Crow gets shot. When they return to camp, the men of the Lone Eaters camp listen to Fools Crow's story and agree that the killing was necessary, but no more killing of the white man should go on for it will bring great trouble to their people. However, Owls Child and his followers go on killing the Napikwans who then blame all the Indians.

The Napikwans gradually stretch further into the Pikunis lands. The white scabs disease spreads faster than fire weakening the Pikunis people. At this time Fools Crow is called in a dream to take a seven day journey. He does not know his destination, only that he is to dress as beggar, take no food and make no stops. His horse carries him to a mystical canyon where he meets So-at-sa-ki (Feather Woman) who was once married to the god Morning Star. However, she was banished to earth when she dug up the sacred turnip. She paints an image on a yellow skin, images of changing scenes that come to life. Through the images, Fools Crow sees snippets of his peoples' future. He does not understand it all but returns home and watches the story unfold. Even through the difficulties, he looks to the future with renewed hope for So-at-sa-ki has told him he can do much good for his people.

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