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Fools Crow (Contemporary American Fiction)

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The year is 1870, and Fool's Crow, so called after he killed the chief of the Crows during a raid, has a vision at the annual Sun Dance ceremony. The young warrior sees the end of the Indian way of life and the choice that must be made: resistance or humiliating accommodation. "A major contibution to Native American literature." —Wallace Stegner. The year is 1870, and Fool's Crow, so called after he killed the chief of the Crows during a raid, has a vision at the annual Sun Dance ceremony. The young warrior sees the end of the Indian way of life and the choice that must be made: resistance or humiliating accommodation. "A major contibution to Native American literature." —Wallace Stegner.


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The year is 1870, and Fool's Crow, so called after he killed the chief of the Crows during a raid, has a vision at the annual Sun Dance ceremony. The young warrior sees the end of the Indian way of life and the choice that must be made: resistance or humiliating accommodation. "A major contibution to Native American literature." —Wallace Stegner. The year is 1870, and Fool's Crow, so called after he killed the chief of the Crows during a raid, has a vision at the annual Sun Dance ceremony. The young warrior sees the end of the Indian way of life and the choice that must be made: resistance or humiliating accommodation. "A major contibution to Native American literature." —Wallace Stegner.

30 review for Fools Crow (Contemporary American Fiction)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    I found this a very powerful novel dramatising the cultural clash between the Pikuni Blackfeet Native Americans and the more powerful and advanced American settlers called "Napikwans" by the Blackfeet. I found the detailed description of the vanished life style of the tribe immensely interesting. I would tend to agree with the introduction by Thomas Mcguane when he makes the point that “Tribalism is now accepted as a societal model best left to history. . . .” But he also states that “. . . it he I found this a very powerful novel dramatising the cultural clash between the Pikuni Blackfeet Native Americans and the more powerful and advanced American settlers called "Napikwans" by the Blackfeet. I found the detailed description of the vanished life style of the tribe immensely interesting. I would tend to agree with the introduction by Thomas Mcguane when he makes the point that “Tribalism is now accepted as a societal model best left to history. . . .” But he also states that “. . . it helps to see what is lost when cultures evolve and our relationships to one another are blurred.” And James Welch very movingly does let us see the losses that come with the destruction of a way of life that allows a people to live in a more profound relationship with Nature than we seem unable to emulate. The novel deals with profound issues and the central character, Fools Crow, is very vividly realised. He starts as an uncertain young man, becomes a warrior and finally a mystic. Other characters are equally convincing. In fact, probably the great central cry of the novel is in the following passage. Fools Crow's father is speaking to another chief, Three Bears. “We will lose our grandchildren, Three Bears. They will be wiped out or they will turn into Napikwans. Already some of our children attend their school at the agency. Our men wear trousers and the women prefer the trade-cloth to skins. We wear their blankets, cook in their kettles, and kill the blackhorns with their bullets. Soon our young women will marry them. . . . And the reply he gets from Three Bears offers no consolation. “I am an old man and I see things I do not like. . . I see the signs all around me. Many of you young men go off on their own. They do not listen to their chiefs. They drink the white man’s water and kill each other. Some of the our young women already stand around the forts, waiting to fornicate with the seizers for a drink of this water. They become ugly before their time, and then they are turned out like old cows to forage for themselves. . . We live many sleeps from these places of ruin. But the day will come when our people will decide that they would rather consort with the Napikwans than live in the ways our long-ago fathers thought appropriate. But I, Three Bears, will not see this day. I will die first.”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Petra

    A wonderful, compelling story of change and misunderstandings. The arrival of the White Man to the Plains of America brought changes to the Pikuni Natives in ways that they could not understand or were given the time to adapt to. The results, as we know, were disastrous (to all Native Americans). The story of Fools Crow shows the desire to live in peace, with all people, and their confusion at the worsening of their situation through no fault of their own. This is a well told and thoughtful story A wonderful, compelling story of change and misunderstandings. The arrival of the White Man to the Plains of America brought changes to the Pikuni Natives in ways that they could not understand or were given the time to adapt to. The results, as we know, were disastrous (to all Native Americans). The story of Fools Crow shows the desire to live in peace, with all people, and their confusion at the worsening of their situation through no fault of their own. This is a well told and thoughtful story of a time of change and instability.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sylvia

    An amazing book that makes you realize just how much sympathetic, realistic, humanizing portraits of Native Americans are lacking in American fiction. This book tells the story of Fools Crow, a young Blackfoot warrior, and his village in the late 1800s as US soldiers are encroaching on their territory. However, white people loom at the very outer periphery of the story. This book is not the usual Requiem for the Noble Savage that you might have read before. Most of the book deals with the daily An amazing book that makes you realize just how much sympathetic, realistic, humanizing portraits of Native Americans are lacking in American fiction. This book tells the story of Fools Crow, a young Blackfoot warrior, and his village in the late 1800s as US soldiers are encroaching on their territory. However, white people loom at the very outer periphery of the story. This book is not the usual Requiem for the Noble Savage that you might have read before. Most of the book deals with the daily trials and dramas of the Blackfeet-- political intrigues, siblings' jealousy, broken friendships, young love and coming-of-age. It does not romanticize Blackfeet culture, nor exoticize it. It takes a while to get into-- though it's written in English, it's as if it was written in the Blackfeet language and then translated into English. But that's its genius, because once you begin to understand the strange turns of phrase, you are able to relate to and identify with characters who lived in a totally different world, and who subscribed to a totally different set of values and beliefs about how the world works. And while it is sad to think about all that was destroyed over several centuries of genocide, the fact that the book was written by a modern Blackfeet tribemember, James Welch, shows that not all was lost.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    The last several weeks I’ve spent picking up various books that have been forgotten on my bookshelf for some time now, only to put them down one after another having read only a few pages and becoming distracted. My life has felt so out of control lately that it’s been hard for me to even concentrate on my beloved stories. Until I picked up Fools Crow, that is, and I couldn’t put it down. I’m a believer in the notion that we usually get what we need when we need it; and that it stays until we’ve The last several weeks I’ve spent picking up various books that have been forgotten on my bookshelf for some time now, only to put them down one after another having read only a few pages and becoming distracted. My life has felt so out of control lately that it’s been hard for me to even concentrate on my beloved stories. Until I picked up Fools Crow, that is, and I couldn’t put it down. I’m a believer in the notion that we usually get what we need when we need it; and that it stays until we’ve learned all that we’re intended to learn (pleasant or otherwise). It’s no secret that I have been learning some unpleasant lessons lately, so I am thankful for this dark but heartening book with a message that I’ve so needed to hear. As a side note, it’s no wonder to me that the books that have the most relevant message for me at any particular time in my life are the books that captivate my attention where others fail. There are no bad books; timing is the key. Anyhow, the story of Fools Crow reminds me that our lives are, by nature, incredibly messy and uncertain. We are all prone to lose track of ourselves and our purpose every now and then; even to question the meaning of life itself when we are presented with obstacles that seem insurmountable and unreal in their cruelty. But there is meaning. There is hope. And part of the beauty of it all is the relationship of lightness and dark; suffering and joy; pain and growth; life and death. Our choice is to adapt to the bad and wait for the good, or give in and let the world overwhelm us.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shonna Kelso

    Great story written from a Blackfoot Indian youth's point of view. As a Montanan, I can tell you that I know Native Americans who may speak English, but Welch has captured much of the style and cadence of their speach in this novel. In addition, he manages to tell the story in the style of a legend which incorporates the grandeur and vastness of our state. He is a native Montanan and he understands that the land has written us, as authors, not the other way around. The landscape of Montana is so Great story written from a Blackfoot Indian youth's point of view. As a Montanan, I can tell you that I know Native Americans who may speak English, but Welch has captured much of the style and cadence of their speach in this novel. In addition, he manages to tell the story in the style of a legend which incorporates the grandeur and vastness of our state. He is a native Montanan and he understands that the land has written us, as authors, not the other way around. The landscape of Montana is so omnipresent that it became a parent-figure that formed and nurtured me, Welch knows this too and it comes through in this novel.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ruby

    I loved this book. It is Native American history from a Native American viewpoint. Knowing what is going to happen, reading about this part of the Blackfeet tribe was bitter sweet. At the beginning, we get to see what day to day life was like before the settlers came in large numbers to take the land and make the buffalo extinct. It wasn't romanticized. We see violence between tribes, the possibility of starvation, the physical pain involved in certain rituals. But we also feel the deep connecti I loved this book. It is Native American history from a Native American viewpoint. Knowing what is going to happen, reading about this part of the Blackfeet tribe was bitter sweet. At the beginning, we get to see what day to day life was like before the settlers came in large numbers to take the land and make the buffalo extinct. It wasn't romanticized. We see violence between tribes, the possibility of starvation, the physical pain involved in certain rituals. But we also feel the deep connection between human beings, the earth, the animals. By the end, we see what is coming: the death of so many people, whether through small pax, forced marches, direct murder, etc.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paola

    A very interesting book for me, and one I am very glad to have read. The "native-indian" style of writing (in which days are counted in terms of sleeps, months in terms of moons, seasons in terms of the expected arrival of Cold Maker, and so on) plunges the reader immediately inside the Lone Eaters camps, and there are so many little details that provide a very vivid picture of what life was like for the Indian Blackfoot Tribes at the end of the 19th century, how they felt, what made their socie A very interesting book for me, and one I am very glad to have read. The "native-indian" style of writing (in which days are counted in terms of sleeps, months in terms of moons, seasons in terms of the expected arrival of Cold Maker, and so on) plunges the reader immediately inside the Lone Eaters camps, and there are so many little details that provide a very vivid picture of what life was like for the Indian Blackfoot Tribes at the end of the 19th century, how they felt, what made their society click and turn. For this alone I think Welch well deserved all the praise he got for this novel. But in terms of narrative, to me it felt perhaps too preoccupied with using the characters to provide the information, and in this way they come around somewhat flat. Many of the characters are wisdom and patience personified, and in this the novel seems to perpetuate the mith of the "good savage" which I find hard to swallow especially as what is portraied is a society in which superstition is so engrained. In many ways this novel reminds me of Achebe's Things Fall Apart, which is however much more edgy and convincing.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Brydges

    A very valuable read. Written in 1986 by a Blackfoot author, it seems to be an authentic portrayal of life among what we Canadians would label the Piikani First Nation (although the book is set in Montana around 1870), in their dying days of living independently upon the bison that were shortly to be eradicated. More than showing their lives though, it shows a worldview in marked constrast to that of the white traders/soldiers and settlers, then and now. It particularly resonated with me because A very valuable read. Written in 1986 by a Blackfoot author, it seems to be an authentic portrayal of life among what we Canadians would label the Piikani First Nation (although the book is set in Montana around 1870), in their dying days of living independently upon the bison that were shortly to be eradicated. More than showing their lives though, it shows a worldview in marked constrast to that of the white traders/soldiers and settlers, then and now. It particularly resonated with me because I recently saw the powerful play ‘Okotoks’ performed by the Treaty Seven Society, and learned about the Baker Massacre of a group of these people, one sad part of the future that the protagonist Fools Crow sees drawn-out before him in a vision in the later part of the book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    This is a great bit of historical fiction. It brings us into the life of a community of Native Americans in the 1860s & 1870s in the northern plains, a time of transition as the arrival of white settlers threatens them on so many levels. The author did a wonderful job of bringing characters and a culture to life.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carole Rae

    LOVE THIS BOOK! James Welch has left me speechless once again. It's hard to say all that I liked about this novel. Not only did it show you the lives of the Blackfeet, it sucked you in and made you feel like you were there. It's make you feel like your catching all this on camera. It was wonderfully written. In some twisted way it was like a soap opera, but more realistic. I'm not sure if that's a compliment or not... The book is mostly about Fools Crow and his tribe. It starts off when Fools Cro LOVE THIS BOOK! James Welch has left me speechless once again. It's hard to say all that I liked about this novel. Not only did it show you the lives of the Blackfeet, it sucked you in and made you feel like you were there. It's make you feel like your catching all this on camera. It was wonderfully written. In some twisted way it was like a soap opera, but more realistic. I'm not sure if that's a compliment or not... The book is mostly about Fools Crow and his tribe. It starts off when Fools Crow was just named White Man's Dog and he's pretty much the tribe "loser", because he has no luck or anything. It starts off a little slow, but it picks up after a couple chapters. The story is wonderfully written. There are no words to describe it. There were only two things I didn't like about this book. One, they killed my favorite character off...I can't say who it was, but I was VERY upset. It happens a lot though, my favorite character usually dies if it isn't the main character. If its a side character, the writer loves to kill him/her off. And two, I hate how Mr. Welch jumps the narration around in the middle of a chapter, it bugs me. I tend to get confused on who's thinking what for a moment. But that's it. All-in-all, I was not let down. These type of stories tend to be very hard to write. You need a level of understanding of the culture and of the people who lived in those times. James Welch did a fantastic job! I think everyone should read this book. It shows more than one viewpoint of the issues in those days and it shows a different culture many people haven't been introduced to. Now I'm just waiting for a novel like this to be about my Creek people. I haven't found one that really makes me speechless like this novel did. I grant this book 5 stars! WOOT WOOT!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    James Welch was a gifted American writer and one of the best to realistically depict the culture of the modern-day Plains Indians. After reading one of James Welch's earlier books, I put off reading any other books for years. They are hard to read in that they are excellently written but give such a sense of despair. Fool's Crow is not quite the same as the others - more of a look back at the Blackfeet before the white man entered the scene ... but towards the end the foreboding and sense of los James Welch was a gifted American writer and one of the best to realistically depict the culture of the modern-day Plains Indians. After reading one of James Welch's earlier books, I put off reading any other books for years. They are hard to read in that they are excellently written but give such a sense of despair. Fool's Crow is not quite the same as the others - more of a look back at the Blackfeet before the white man entered the scene ... but towards the end the foreboding and sense of loss are there as well.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    Beautifully written, culturally immersive, powerful, and devastatingly heartbreaking. It felt like a hundred different stories in one. Really loved this book. Wow.

  13. 4 out of 5

    ❤Marie Gentilcore

    3.5 stars. This is an older book, first published in 1986, and it was good but felt like a familiar story. It is about a young Blackfeet Indian named Fools Crow. It is set in the late 1800’s as the way of life of the Blackfeet was coming to an end. The story follows Fools Crow from a young man to early adulthood. As a Native American, I find these books hard to read because they make me sad.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    This is the troublesome three-star review that is so hard to write. I enjoyed the book, but it didn't inspire any tremendous feelings in me. I feel bad about that, because it deals with some really weighty topics that are very important to my country's history, and I wish this book affected me more. Unfortunately, I think if the same book had been written by a different author, it could have been great. The pacing was strange and dragged from time to time, drifting into dream territory. And the c This is the troublesome three-star review that is so hard to write. I enjoyed the book, but it didn't inspire any tremendous feelings in me. I feel bad about that, because it deals with some really weighty topics that are very important to my country's history, and I wish this book affected me more. Unfortunately, I think if the same book had been written by a different author, it could have been great. The pacing was strange and dragged from time to time, drifting into dream territory. And the characterization could have been turned up a few notches, because I didn't get to know anybody in a truly intimate way. There wasn't anything terribly wrong with this book; but there wasn't anything terribly great about it either.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    *4.25 This is really an amazing story!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robert Walkley

    This bildungsroman and historical novel focuses on the life of Fools Crow, formerly known as White Man’s Dog, as he grows into manhood and learns the spiritual knowledge of his tribe of Blackfeet, the Pikunis. The novel’s time period starts sometime after the Civil War and culminates in the Marias Massacre of 1870. Fools Crow’s task is to preserve his native culture’s ways from the coming holocaust of white invasion. The novel includes real-life characters such as Mountain Chief, Owl Child, Malc This bildungsroman and historical novel focuses on the life of Fools Crow, formerly known as White Man’s Dog, as he grows into manhood and learns the spiritual knowledge of his tribe of Blackfeet, the Pikunis. The novel’s time period starts sometime after the Civil War and culminates in the Marias Massacre of 1870. Fools Crow’s task is to preserve his native culture’s ways from the coming holocaust of white invasion. The novel includes real-life characters such as Mountain Chief, Owl Child, Malcolm Clarke and Joe Kipp. While the novel centers on Fools Crow’s personal quest, the story offers a sweeping panoramic vision of the tribe and its customs. It charts the visions, dreams, and even petty jealousies of members of the tribe as they try to make sense of coming destruction of their way of life through warfare and crippling diseases. Some members, mostly the young, want to fight the whites. Others, mostly the elders, want as much as possible to make peace. Fools Crow’s task is to makes sense of the ensuing tragedy and out of the ashes of destruction offer a vision for the future that will restore the tribe to their former way of life, and once again find favor with their gods. He must guide his tribe through these trials while at the same time raise his own family and keep to his spiritual quest. While the pace of the book can go a bit slowly at times, the scope and grandeur of the novel sweep you along. And while there is much to despair and find anger about, the book does offers a sense of possible re-birth in the vision that Fools Crow has of the post-future. Welch has written a great novel.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lucid

    I'll be writing more about this tonight in preparation for tomorrow's test over the book, but off the top of my head, the first words to come to mind about it are "illuminating" and "crushing." The novel follows the trajectory of Fools Crow, a young Pikuni warrior whose band belongs to the greater Blackfoot Confederacy in the state of Montana shortly after the American Civil War. The narration mainly stays within the world of the Pikunis and as a result, the reader gets a sense of their way of l I'll be writing more about this tonight in preparation for tomorrow's test over the book, but off the top of my head, the first words to come to mind about it are "illuminating" and "crushing." The novel follows the trajectory of Fools Crow, a young Pikuni warrior whose band belongs to the greater Blackfoot Confederacy in the state of Montana shortly after the American Civil War. The narration mainly stays within the world of the Pikunis and as a result, the reader gets a sense of their way of life. This book captures the uncertainty, anxiety and turmoil that white settlers introduced into the lives of the Blackfeet with their concept of Manifest Destiny and with increased white settlement on Blackfoot lands. The most fascinating aspect of the novel for me was its depiction of the cosmology and traditions of the Blackfeet people. Every facet of life had a place in their cosmology, and at the time of the novel's setting, this worldview even came to accommodate the catastrophic entrance of whites into the Blackfoot world. It would be impossible to read this novel and not seriously question the legitimacy of the United States of America as a nation.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dave Holt

    The setting of this novel is the hard times just before the plains tribes fought the Battle of the Greasy Grass with Custer. Welch tells the story of the gradual loss of their hunting lands, the disappearance of the "black-horns" (buffalo), and the death of the Dakota people to the "white scabs disease." "Their time on the plains was numbered." The book really needed an introduction to help readers know that "White Man's Dog" becomes Fools Crow. Is this the same person who's Black Elk's cousin, The setting of this novel is the hard times just before the plains tribes fought the Battle of the Greasy Grass with Custer. Welch tells the story of the gradual loss of their hunting lands, the disappearance of the "black-horns" (buffalo), and the death of the Dakota people to the "white scabs disease." "Their time on the plains was numbered." The book really needed an introduction to help readers know that "White Man's Dog" becomes Fools Crow. Is this the same person who's Black Elk's cousin, Frank Fools Crow? Most white people will have trouble reading this book; there are perhaps more characters than a reader can manage. I thought Welch's "The Heart Song of Charging Elk" was a better written novel; I loved it. I enjoyed this one too; it was hard to put down, but I am very interested in the story of the American Indian's loss of their culture. This book nails it as far as Plains Indian culture is concerned.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Blaire

    The strength of this book is the picture the author is able to draw of what life was like for the Blackfeet Tribe at the end of the 19th century. He vividly portrays their traditional way of living and their dilemma in the face of the incursions being made by white settlers. There is poignancy here and realism and very little romanticizing. We all know the story generally so there is little suspense about what is going to happen; for me it was more a feeling of dread. My interest was in details The strength of this book is the picture the author is able to draw of what life was like for the Blackfeet Tribe at the end of the 19th century. He vividly portrays their traditional way of living and their dilemma in the face of the incursions being made by white settlers. There is poignancy here and realism and very little romanticizing. We all know the story generally so there is little suspense about what is going to happen; for me it was more a feeling of dread. My interest was in details with which I was unfamiliar. I was particularly interested in the very thin border between our consentual reality and the vision world of the Indians. Their consentual reality included both. Despite the prominent role of history, I found this story to be less dry than much historical fiction, perhaps because we get the everyday events of the characters' lives along with the history.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rob Rogers

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. When the novel you're reading concerns a band of Blackfoot Indians just after the U.S. Civil War, you know the story isn't going to end well. What astonished me about this book, however, is how captivating its story becomes. The fact that it's packed with wall to wall action, sex and violence doesn't hurt. Nor does its remarkable ability to convey the mystical beliefs of its characters in a manner that is neither condescending nor precious. I came away feeling not that I had experienced a portra When the novel you're reading concerns a band of Blackfoot Indians just after the U.S. Civil War, you know the story isn't going to end well. What astonished me about this book, however, is how captivating its story becomes. The fact that it's packed with wall to wall action, sex and violence doesn't hurt. Nor does its remarkable ability to convey the mystical beliefs of its characters in a manner that is neither condescending nor precious. I came away feeling not that I had experienced a portrait of the Montana Territory in 1850, but that I had lived in it -- and that made the inevitable sense of loss all the more devastating.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Don

    Finally read and taught this.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Fitzpatrick

    I liked some things about this book but disliked others. It is a historical fiction novel set in the 1870s, and the title character's clan belongs to the Blackfeet tribe. His name is White Man's Dog in the first part of the book but gains a new name later with his changing reputation. The author grew up as a member of the Blackfeet and so can be considered an authority on that culture. The book is beautifully written, and social mores and customs vividly rendered. Within the story, there are wom I liked some things about this book but disliked others. It is a historical fiction novel set in the 1870s, and the title character's clan belongs to the Blackfeet tribe. His name is White Man's Dog in the first part of the book but gains a new name later with his changing reputation. The author grew up as a member of the Blackfeet and so can be considered an authority on that culture. The book is beautifully written, and social mores and customs vividly rendered. Within the story, there are women are generally disrespected even if the male characters express affection for particular women. Women are expected to get married very young, fifteen or sixteen, after very little interaction with their future husband. Men take three or four wives, and can marry again without the support of existing wives. Rape is normalized, as is cutting off the nose or ears of wives who offend their husbands. About 90% of the conversations in the book are between men, and most of the rest are between a man and a woman. I can think of only one conversation that was between two women. In that conversation and in the internal dialogue of the few female characters the focus is on the men in their life or on their children. Self-sacrifice in service of male honor (self-mutilation, fasting, physical labor while pregnant) is enthusiastically embraced by women. I don't know enough about any Native American cultures to say whether or not this authentically depicts gender relations. It did occur to me that since this book was written in the 1980s, some conservative ideas of gender from that era may have colored how characters are portrayed in the book. At any rate, misogyny is not challenged at all in the book. No characters push back against the system or express any discomfort with it. The central focus of the story is on Fools Crow as he grows to manhood. He is 17 or so at the beginning of the story, which covers a few years. He worries a lot about maintaining personal integrity and living the right kind of life. This goal is complicated by the encroachment of whites, which has some of the younger men insisting on violent resistance. There are several incidents of violence against white women, while only at the end of the book is there a massacre of a Blackfeet village. This incident is based on a historic event, but the way it is rendered in the book it seems to be a natural consequence of the young Blackfeet rampages. Throughout the story people are also seeking out white trade goods more and more. Older members of the tribe lament that people now want flashy fabrics and steel implements as opposed to ones they make themselves. I remember hearing this explanation previously, blaming lack of willpower for Native American dependence on white materials. More recent histories however argue that it is more accurate to describe this dependence as a result of reduced numbers in the face of epidemics. Many Native American groups just didn't have the manpower to create as many artifacts as before, and instead had to focus on acquiring enough food and shelter. In a few places the author also mentions Blackfeet children who are attending mission schools. The European haircut and clothing of the children is commented on as is some mild sadness at their disconnection with their own culture. These were local Jesuit day schools - the book doesn't cover the period within a decade or two when children started being kidnapped and taken to far-off boarding schools. I hoped to find some articles about changing views of this novel, but I haven't found much yet. It was a groundbreaking novel for its time, but prefer more recent Native American literature.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Bauer

    This is a story about the social and cultural world of the Blackfeet Indians, and the threat to their existence posed by the encroachment of white civilization, as experienced by a young brave whose name, White Man's Dog, later gets changed to Fools Crow. The author makes extensive use of magical realism to show us the worldview of the Blackfeet. People rely on power animals and good medicine. Injuries and illnesses are caused by bad spirits. Earthly existence, dreams, the shadowland, the Below This is a story about the social and cultural world of the Blackfeet Indians, and the threat to their existence posed by the encroachment of white civilization, as experienced by a young brave whose name, White Man's Dog, later gets changed to Fools Crow. The author makes extensive use of magical realism to show us the worldview of the Blackfeet. People rely on power animals and good medicine. Injuries and illnesses are caused by bad spirits. Earthly existence, dreams, the shadowland, the Below World, and the Above World are all equally real and have equal authority. Set in 1870, the story ends with the actual historical incident of the Marias massacre of a band of friendly Blackfeet, already experiencing an epidemic of smallpox, by the U.S. Army. Thankfully, the story ends with a chord of hope. Interestingly, the author, who is of partial Blackfeet descent, was raised as a Catholic. Despite claiming to now be agnostic, I sense that the spiritual views and customs of the Blackfeet, and what they consider virtuous, are shown through a strong Catholic framework, including that final chord of hope. Assuming that's true, one could make a number of interpretations of the impact, but for sure the author succeeds in showing the humanity of the Blackfeet. I enjoyed the novel and hope to read additional books by the author.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    It is easy to lose yourself in this evocative story of 1870 Montana. Welch has written a compelling protagonist in Fools Crow, who embarks on a heroes journey in a time of tumultuous change (and ultimately destruction). Given the setting, it was much more upbeat than I expected, and much more the celebration of Pikuni/Blackfeet culture and life. All of Welch's characters are rounded, and they breathe life into history, without ever feeling like less than individuals. Just a really good read. It is easy to lose yourself in this evocative story of 1870 Montana. Welch has written a compelling protagonist in Fools Crow, who embarks on a heroes journey in a time of tumultuous change (and ultimately destruction). Given the setting, it was much more upbeat than I expected, and much more the celebration of Pikuni/Blackfeet culture and life. All of Welch's characters are rounded, and they breathe life into history, without ever feeling like less than individuals. Just a really good read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    This story absolutely immerses you in the lives of the Pikuni people: their dreams, their medicine and their honor system. It captures the heartbreaking reality as their belief systems begin to crumble in their powerlessness against smallpox and the invasion of white people.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pam Porell

    Beautifully written book. Was almost mystic. The story of the mistreatment of the Native American is so sad.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    Welch’s writing is atmospheric and his stories are tragic. I liked this more and more as I went, and it was a powerful read alongside my Montana history class.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

    This is a very good historical fiction account of the lives of the Lone Eaters tribe of the Pikunis Blackfoot Native Americans during the mid-1800s. The story follows White Man’s Dog who is later named Fools Crow. The names and language are written in the way that it was spoken. It takes a little effort to get used to but becomes natural. It is about the customs and beliefs and way of life of these people. It is also about the struggles for survival of the Native Americans as they are being push This is a very good historical fiction account of the lives of the Lone Eaters tribe of the Pikunis Blackfoot Native Americans during the mid-1800s. The story follows White Man’s Dog who is later named Fools Crow. The names and language are written in the way that it was spoken. It takes a little effort to get used to but becomes natural. It is about the customs and beliefs and way of life of these people. It is also about the struggles for survival of the Native Americans as they are being pushed off of the lands they rely on to survive. Some of them are resigned to the inevitable and try to make deals to keep the peace. Others know it is unfair and want to fight the Napkiwans (white men) who will destroy their way of life. A thoughtful and profound read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Devon

    “James Welch was born in Browning, Montana in 1940 to a Blackfeet father and Gros-Ventre mother. Welch went to school on the Blackfeet and Fort-Belknap reservations and began studying as a graduate student under influential poet Richard Hugo at the University of Montana in the 1960’s. Welch said that in the first quarter had o focus and no location. Finally, Hugo pulled Welch aside for some private counseling. What Hugo told him is that his poems needed roots, so he should write what he already “James Welch was born in Browning, Montana in 1940 to a Blackfeet father and Gros-Ventre mother. Welch went to school on the Blackfeet and Fort-Belknap reservations and began studying as a graduate student under influential poet Richard Hugo at the University of Montana in the 1960’s. Welch said that in the first quarter had o focus and no location. Finally, Hugo pulled Welch aside for some private counseling. What Hugo told him is that his poems needed roots, so he should write what he already knew about. Write about Indians and Indian culture. Write about home. Soon after welch started writing about his life on the Hi-Line and on the reservation. Before, Welch thought publishers wouldn’t be interested in Indians or Montana and nobody would want to read about Native Americans, The Reservation, and the Landscape along the Hi-Line. Welch could have not been more wrong.” http://montanakids.com/cool_stories/f.... The book is a Historical Fiction book that takes place after the Civil War in 1885, but it is showing the life of the Indians on the Reservation through a characters eyes named White Mans Dog later to be known as Fools Crow. It shows us his thoughts on how everything went down and how they were against other tribes and how the White Men acted as they took over the Natives on their own land. James Welch writing style. He wrote this book in a way that kept me drawn in by having a cliffhanger after every chapter and making it more suspenseful and make me want to read more and more every time. He also wrote it in a way that described it in detail but no to the point where either it was too hard to understand or it just got straight up annoying and I got bored with it. He wrote this book through the eyes of the characters, which allowed me to see and kind of feel what the characters were doing at that specific moment in the book. “ Whether it was nerves or fatigue, something was drawing him closer to the end. About himself, Fast Horse did not know (Pg. 301 end of Ch. 25). Although the quote is at the end of chapter 5, it kept me drawn in because I needed to know what was happening to the character and what he was about to find out about himself. One last thing is it made me also feel in the book like in my heart and made me think as well. “I take the heart from the sacred black horn. Where I walk, the grasses touch my feet. I stop with my medicine. The ground where my medicine rests is sacred.” (Pg.267). The weaknesses and the controversies of this book are that it was a very hard book to follow along with because the plot was always going in a separate direction and not in a straight pattern where people may be able to understand what is happening. It was banned for a very good reason: due to the very graphic sexual content and violence that was used in the book. I would not quite ban it in high school because there are a lot of good things that could be learned from the book like showing us how wrongly we did treat the Natives but also how the Natives lived before we arrived in the country. I would just use it as a teaching tool for history teachers alone and use it no farther than that and allow kids to have the option to read it or another book about Natives in history class. So maybe just put a class restriction on it and leave it at that.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lydia Presley

    It's always interesting to go back and re-read a book that piqued your interest in something. I read Fools Crow in 2012 for a Non-Western Literature course during my undergraduate study as an English Literature student and it was this book that set me on the course I am following today as a first year PhD student in English Literature. It was Fools Crow that woke me up, that made me question everything I knew and set me out on a journey where the questions far out-numbered the answers. This time It's always interesting to go back and re-read a book that piqued your interest in something. I read Fools Crow in 2012 for a Non-Western Literature course during my undergraduate study as an English Literature student and it was this book that set me on the course I am following today as a first year PhD student in English Literature. It was Fools Crow that woke me up, that made me question everything I knew and set me out on a journey where the questions far out-numbered the answers. This time, I'm reading the book in preparation for a class in Great Plains literature - and this book (along with Charcoal's World and Waterlily) are the introductory texts for the first week in class. Already, after just reading 2 of the 3, I can see the connections and the timeline and the ways through which our discussion will be framed. Still, I couldn't help but notice the power of dreams throughout Fool's Crow and, after reading Waterlily, their significance stuck out even more. For all the tragedy in Fool's Crow, there is also beauty - beauty in the way the Pikuni people perform their kinship and loyalty, beauty in the rituals (medicine, marriage, sacred), and beauty in their names. I mean, I cannot get over how perfectly the names fit with who they were in their lives. Fools Crow also hints at, although it does not fully explore, the budding residential school system. It interacts directly with the forming treaties, and also points out just how futile those flimsy pieces of written word are when put up against a regiment or group of "Napikwans" who are fully armed and out for blood. Welch does not write for an audience who needs their hand held while reading. He writes in a way that demands you step into his arena and you listen to the stories of the Pikuni people on the pages. -------------- 2012 review ---------------------- Fools Crow by James Welch is an historical novel which culminates in the Baker (or Marias) Massacre of 1870. For those who are unfamiliar with this massacre it was the end result of a series of events involving the Pikuni Owl Child and Major Eugene Baker. The slaughter covered 217 of the Pikuni, most of whom were women and children. In Fools Crow, we're introduced to White Man's Dog, a young Pikuni man who has yet to distinguish himself within the tribe. Through a series of events, the major characters of the book are introduced to White Man's Dog, and in a sort of coming-of-age story, we follow the progress not only of White Man's Dog, but also the Pikuni tribe as they struggle against the changes being brought by the United States Government. Fools Crow provides eye-opening examples of the importance of dreams to the Pikuni culture, the horrors of assimilation of one culture into another, and the injustice of the actions against the Native Americans during the building of the United States as we know it. Reading this book should be done slowly and thoughtfully, as the story itself (while interesting) holds so many meanings revealed through careful inspection of the dreams and connections drawn from them to the narrative.

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