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Fools Crow

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  2,098 ratings  ·  148 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 ErdrichBeyond Bridalveil Fall by Sheryl Seal
Native American Fiction
31st out of 495 books — 446 voters
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Best Native American/First Nations Fiction
11th out of 277 books — 195 voters


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Community Reviews

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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 ...more
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
...more
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 ...more
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
...more
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 ...more
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
...more
Lydia Presley
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 char
...more
Tex Tourais
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
...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
...more
August Sanchez
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
McKenna
Emotionally, I struggled with this book. There's a difference between violent, penetrating details and violent detail about penetration, and the author seems to have missed that. There's lots of rape in this book, and the violent details are not necessary to the main points being made in the book. Fool's Crow is more about the oppression and marginalization of the Blackfoot tribe than about the oppression of women, as attested to by the inconsistent narrations and memories of Red Paint.
yexxo
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
Tyler
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
...more
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,
...more
David Barajas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marty
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
...more
Gina
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
Liliana ♥s Mythology
Jun 23, 2014 Liliana ♥s Mythology 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
...more
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
David
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
Christy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lori
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
...more
Rita Andres
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.)
Jeffrey
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
...more
Diane
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
Josh Parker
The book builds an understanding of Blackfeet culture on the plains of northwest Montana, overlooking "the Backbone" known now as Glacier National Park. The book is both a coming of age story for a young Blackfeet man, but also a glimpse into the many sides of the crisis that confronted the Natives with the continuous arrivals of U.S. settlers and military. I'm approaching the climax of the story with certain anticipation that the Blackfeet will meet a terrible, but hopefully honorable, demise.

O
...more
Amy Bailey
This was a great fictional account of what things really were like for Native tribes like the Blackfeet following the Civil War and the push of settlers further West. This was sentimental enough to the Native Americans without showing them in a no-warts kind of way. They were, at times, brutal. However, the author did a wonderful job capturing the tribal culture and the loss they felt when the white settlers began to change the landscape of their beloved land and to kill for the sake of killing. ...more
Dan
This book made quite an impression. I think the first thing that people notice about the book, even if they can't justify it "intellectually" is that it seemed to be a very realistic depiction of how things may have happened to many tribes. How do I justify this feeling? I know that James Welch was a Blackfeet (foot?)tribe descendant and probably meticulously researched his subjects. Also it wasn't that long ago and I'm sure there is more than one historical account of the Native American perspe ...more
Jim Kristofic
Jan 24, 2011 Jim Kristofic rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jim by: Read as part of a graduate course - never would have discovered it on my own
SECOND READING:

This was the first James Welch book I'd read (and will not be the last, and neither will it be the last I've read a second time). The understanding of the movements of the Blackfoot's seasons, the landscape, the customs, the langauge, all came as easy as wind in the grass.

The craftmanship just hums in this prose. And the sad eclipsing of a way of life is understood not just in terms of its sadness or its pity. As Welch follows his people - White Man's Dog, Yellow Kidney, Owl Chi
...more
Allie
You know the end of this book when you start it, but that doesn't stop you from hoping the Blackfeet will somehow escape the devastation that the white settlers bring. I absolutely love James Welch's writing, and got hooked on it first through his poetry (Riding the Earthboy 40). I am entranced by his descriptions of winter and ceremony. The last line of this book is a little too optimistic, and didn't seem to fit with the rest of the story, almost like when old film noirs got the tacked on happ ...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...
Winter in the Blood The Heartsong of Charging Elk The Death of Jim Loney Killing Custer: The Battle of Little Big Horn and the Fate of the Plains Indians The Indian Lawyer: A Novel

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