Fools Crow by James Welch
- Method of Obtaining: I purchased my copy.
- Published by: Penguin Books
- Release Date: 11/3/1987
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.
Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.
- This is required reading for my Non-Western Literature course.
I also recommend:
- The Surrounded by D’Arcy McNickle
- The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
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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