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Fools Crow

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,609 Ratings  ·  175 Reviews
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.
Paperback, 400 pages
Published November 3rd 1987 by Penguin Books (first published 1986)
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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman AlexieBeyond Oria Falls by Sheryl SealLove Medicine by Louise ErdrichCeremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
Native American Fiction
34th out of 588 books — 536 voters
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman AlexieLove Medicine by Louise ErdrichGreen Grass, Running Water by Thomas KingThree Day Road by Joseph Boyden
Best Native American/First Nations Fiction
10th out of 367 books — 262 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 26, 2007 Sylvia rated it really liked it
Shelves: greatfiction
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 ...more
Mar 21, 2014 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 ...more
Mar 17, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing
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
Shonna Kelso
Mar 11, 2008 Shonna Kelso rated it really liked it
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 ...more
May 30, 2016 Bethany rated it it was amazing
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
Carole Rae
Mar 25, 2011 Carole Rae rated it it was amazing
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
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
Tex Tourais
Jun 10, 2014 Tex Tourais rated it it was amazing
Unflinching, unsympathetic, unforgettable:

"In the end nothing was decided, and that was the way it had been lately. As Fools Crow lay in the shadowy lodge, listening to his wife's sleeping breath, he felt the impotence that had fallen over his people like snow in the night. Before the coming of the Napikwans, decisions had been made. There was always the arguing, but in the end, the men had made a decision and all had abided by it. Fools Crow's grandfather had told of a much simpler life when th
Feb 07, 2016 Juanita rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-indian
Review: Fools Crow by James Welch. I found this book full of adventure, traditions, beliefs, trials and tribulations of the Native Americans of the 1870 19s an inspiration of their ways of life.

The story consisted of many tribes living in Montana and on the Canadian borders at the time when the white people started moving into the Indian territory 19s. Many tribes wanted peace but it only took a short time and some white men and young Indians to betray that trust.

The Indians didn 19t stop from
Jan 20, 2015 Abbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fool's Crow is the story of a man who becomes a mature leader in his Native American tribe. Fool's Crow has to deal with the white men who are invading his tribe and spreading sickness to his people. I loved this book because I have always been very interested in the Native American culture and spirituality, and this book really allowed me to see inside it from the perspective of a tribe member. This book also explored the theme of the white man/European man as a "taker", doing what he wants, li ...more
English Education
A t about the native american tribe of blackfeet Indians in the 1870 who undergo and feel the hand of the whites coming into their territory. With the pressures of their way life being changed, altered, or terminated you follow the narrative of Fools Crow and learn about their many rites and rituals.

Teachers will like this because it shows some native americans in their culture and it is not written by white america, but someone who knows. it is a different perspective about what happened to the
August Sanchez
Sep 14, 2014 August Sanchez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the elders of the literary American Indian, Welch wrote a book that was simultaneously strong handed with its dealings with American and American Indian relations, and subtle in the narrative weavings of the Whites and Indians. Welch was careful, and I believe rightfully so, to show not just stereotypes, or what we would consider common images and interactions of Indians and whites but their opposites as well. There are good Indians and bad Indians. There are Indian lovers and Indian hate ...more
Jessie Tapley
2.5 stars. In some ways, I really admire this book - it was a journey to go on. But it has it's faults, and I don't think it's always the most readable book. That's not really a fault, that a book is difficult, but sometimes that does affect how much a book does or does not resonate with the reader. Personally, my experience is that I did struggle a lot when I first started reading it and really didn't enjoy reading it at first, but the language becomes more natural the more you get into the nov ...more
Jan 21, 2016 Sam rated it liked it
I really liked how this book portrayed the Native American lifestyle. It is probably one of the most accurate depictions of how they thought and acted based on their given situation in that time and place. There are too many books out there about their lifestyle that is too attributed to fiction, and not enough accuracy. Yes this book has a fictional story, but I believe based on my studies of Native American life in this time period that this book displays very closely what life was like.

It was
May 15, 2014 yexxo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
James Welch schildert auf knapp 480 Seiten ca. zwei Jahre im Leben des Fools Crow. Aufgewachsen als White Man's Dog, Angehöriger der Stammesgruppe der Lone Eaters vom Stamme der Pikuni, entwickelt er sich in dieser Zeit vom ängstlichen und schüchternen Jungen zu einem allseits anerkannten und respektierten Krieger und Mitglied seiner Stammesgruppe. Der Autor, selbst ein Blackfeet, zu denen auch die Pikuni gehören, erzählt ganz aus der Sicht sowie in der Sprache der Indianer. Dies macht das Buch ...more
Sep 18, 2013 Tyler rated it it was ok
This book has been lauded as one of the best in Western American literature, expressing accurately the perspective of Native American Plains tribes, specifically the Blackfeet. I think relating to historical accuracy that praise is deserved, but in terms of quality storytelling this book didn't work for me.

Consider soggy oatmeal. Sure its healthy, and really it doesn't taste too bad; but no one is going to walk into their favorite breakfast joint, slap down a twenty, and ask for world class sog
Kyle Aisteach
I found this book very frustrating. There's a great deal of wonderful material in it. Poignant. Funny. Deep. But, ultimately, it feels to me like a rock-solid first draft, not a cohesive whole.

Dramatic, important storylines vanish without a trace for chapters upon chapters, only to re-appear and be brushed aside as an afterthought. Major characters fade away without adequate resolution. Exposition comes far too late, as if a friend of Welch commented that something wasn't clear in the beginning,
David Barajas
Nov 30, 2012 David Barajas rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 07, 2008 Marty rated it really liked it
SECOND TIME THROUGH, September 12, 2009:

Because I had thoroughly enjoyed reading this for one of my grad school classes, I decided to read it again to see if it was something that I wanted my students to read in high school. Well, I'm glad I did so, because I won't be the one who will face a parent asking what kind of stuff I'm having their kid read. Not because the book wasn't as good as I remembered, but because the sexual content in the book was more explicit than I remembered (considering t
May 05, 2011 Gina rated it it was amazing
Fools Crow does an excellent job in portraying the life of the Native American when the advancing white man began to endanger the Native American culture, lifestyle, and eventually existence. Detailed to each custom and ritual, the reader will absorb an exceptional amount of Native American background. Everyone has read the history books; we get a somewhat bias outlook of past occurrences through historical documents, and although the book is fiction, the author conveys the other side of the sto ...more
Jun 23, 2014 Liliana marked it as didnt-finish
Shelves: for-school
So I had to read this for my myth and symbolism class...and what it had to do with what we were talking about, i have no idea.

My intitals thoughts about the book: Ugh, this is going to be boring. My thoughts after reading book: Wow! This is still lame -_- LOL

Its just not my type of book. First off, its not YA (my favorite), there's nothing paranormal about it (unless you count some bird talking to the guy, lol), and it was hella boring! It didnt capture my attention at all, so I struggled though
Kate Barber
By placing Fools Crow in the late nineteenth century, prior to the invasion of the white colonizers, it is in effect a pre-colonial text. Through the use of language and images Welch shows the reader something which they won’t have encountered before and as a result there is a feeling of dislocation. However, there is a paradox wherein Welch goes back to a pre-colonial time, yet he uses a language that was derived from colonizers. As a result Welch is forced to use a language that is not natural ...more
Apr 30, 2013 David rated it really liked it
A story of the Indian struggle for survival in the 19th century told with an authenticity of language, cadence and attention to custom. Beginning with events in the everyday lives of a tribe of Blackfeet Indians, the story's pace quickens as the threat of the Napikwans (Whites) increases. Welch creates a sense of anxiety as the whites, who in the first half of the book remain on the periphary, play an ever-increasing role in the narrative. Despite feeling a sense of tragic inevitability, as a re ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 21, 2008 Lori rated it really liked it
A friend recommended this book as her favorite read in 2007. I didn't expect to like it because...well...the only other Native American-related fiction I've read is Leslie Marmon Silko, which I found to be very good and very heavy and very depressing.

Fools Crow is a great bildungsroman. The main character starts out as an unsure, kind of self-absorbed adolescent who grows into a spiritual, responsible, humane man and leader. I found his story to be very engrossing.

Also loved the portrayal of t
Rita Andres
Apr 14, 2014 Rita Andres rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book about the Black Feet Indian Nation. I have had this book for years, and I finally read it. As most stories re the Native Americans are incredibly sad, this book is no exception. One comes to love the members of this tribe. The names were a challenge to me. However, when becoming involved, I truly felt such a connection to nature and to the influence that nature has on us humans. (I think that this book was a gift from Jackie.)
Sep 12, 2009 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing
We meet Fools Crow when he is still named White Man's Dog. He goes on a hunting party with Yellow Kidney and Fast Horse. Fools Crow's near mother is the third wife of his father. She is called Kills-close-to -the-lake. I'd like to know how she got her name!

I love these names and the life it reflects, so close to nature and to a small tribal community. James Welch does a masterful job blending the real world of native American life as they face the challenge of white settlers and soldiers after t
Oct 16, 2015 Peggy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-indian
No apostrophe. Protagonist fools the Crow Nation, during a raid.
Loved every single word.
(Did not realize I had picked up a "classic," until I went back and read some previous reviews. )
Became totally immersed in the lives of Native Americans at the advent of the White invasion of the West. Really liked the POV -- seasons, animals, all through the authentic voice of American Indian.
Want MORE of James Welch.
Dec 09, 2013 Diane rated it really liked it
This one was another book I had sitting on my to-be-read bookshelf for several years. I picked it up at a used bookstore knowing nothing about it and later wondered why I bought it because I usually don't read Native American fiction. I started reading it reluctantly, then found myself enjoying the read, and towards the end of the book entirely engrossed in it. This is an historical fiction, coming of age novel, about a Blackfoot young man(from the Pukuni tribe)living in Montana in the 1870s. He ...more
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James Welch was a Blackfeet author who wrote several novels considered part of the Native American Renaissance literary movement. He is best known for his novel "Fools Crow" (1986).

His works explore the experiences of Native Americans in the 19th and 20th centuries. He worked with Paul Stekler on the documentary "Last Stand at Little Bighorn" which aired on PBS.
More about James Welch...

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