Print Сite this

Native American Studies: “Fool’s Crow” by Welch


Fool’s Crow is a novel by James Welch, and it has won several awards like the American Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize when it was published in the year 1986. The novel is set in the year 1870 and it depicts the lives of the Blackfeet people. The central character of the novel, White Man’s Dog is portrayed as an inferior and weak character at the beginning of the novel. He is appointed as the leader of a group of men who are going to steal a herd of horses from the Crow tribes. Though he was initially scared, he put on a brave face and completed the job successfully, and even killed a scout who was trying to raise an alarm. The Crows tried to find out the intruders. One of the raiders, Yellow Kidney, got in front of the searching party and he hid beneath the robes of a girl, who was naked and feverish. He then had sex with the girl before realizing that the girl and her other companions were suffering from smallpox. He was caught afterward and shot in his thigh. The Crows cut his fingers as a punishment for his crime.

We will write a
custom essay
specifically for you

for only $16.05 $11/page
308 certified writers online
Learn More

The story actually deals with the subsequent development of the main character in the course of the novel and it is also a historical document as some historical events. Basically, if we look through the novel critically we will see that the novel deals with the question of choices and decisions that affect human lives as a whole. It also focuses upon the issue that every decision taken by a person not only just affects the person but also goes on to affect his whole environment. The North American native culture is depicted in the novel beautifully, mainly the ceremonialism of the culture, along with their stern belief in supernatural powers, death along many other believes. The novel is said to be a major contribution to the sphere of Native American literature.

Historical Events

In the mentioned chapter, we learn about the “Red Scare” and the eventual public reactions to the wave of labor strikes throughout America. It was termed as a result of both America’s domestic turbulence and also a direct influence of the Russian Bolshevik Revolution.

The difference in the two societies

There is a vast difference between the two societies, the Native American Society and the White Society. The White people were vastly different from the Native Americans in all aspects, from religion to the complexions of the skin. Moreover, powered by the recent scientific developments they understood that the Native Americans did not know the natural resources of their land. So they tried to pit those Native people away from their lands. They never tried to create a shared World with the Native Americans, and this is the most important aspect of differentiation among the people. From culture to religion the White people were different from the natives, and eventually, they were involved in a war with the Native people.


There is a great amount of diversity in the Native American religion as there were many tribes in the part of the World, along with many myths and cultures. Their religions mainly dwell on the atmosphere of the land and spirituality, along with a very strong influence on personal spirituality. On the other hand, the white people were Christian in religion, especially Catholic.


The rights for property can be described as a myth in the Native American culture, as they always believed that the land in America always belonged to them. But the belief was different on the part of the White counterparts, they were aware of the natural resources of the land and they were also determined to get those lands for their businesses. The Native American leaders believed that the land of America was connected to them through blood. White people waged war against them to get hold of their land, and due to superior technologies and other different aspects, the Natives lost in the battles and finally fled from the lands.

Conflicts on gender

The gender conflict is one of the very important conflicts that dominated the pages of history for a long time. The impact of the ongoing war, the epidemics that came with the white invasion, and different aspects like sexual cruelty among the Native women by the White people, could really tell many stories of the suffering of Native American women.

Get your
100% original paper
on any topic

done in as little as
3 hours
Learn More

The portrayal of Sexuality

There are many levels of portrayal in the novel, and in the novel Fool’s Crow, the theme of sexuality is a relevant topic. At the very beginning of the novel, we see that Yellow Kidney, although married, had sexual intercourse with a small girl. Though he was punished for his crimes, his wife waited for his return and even vowed that if he returns she would perform the role of Medicine Woman in the Sundance festival. Here we can understand that there was a polygamous culture prevailed in the society. White Man’s Dog, who later was named Fool’s Crow married their daughter Red Paint. At a point in time Fool’s Crow even used his wife as bait too!


At the very beginning of our discussion, we have to remember that the writer is writing a story for the readers to read and entertain in the first place. He is not providing a detailed insight into the characters of both the Native American and the White people, but his extensive research work is evident if one goes through the book. We can say that the portrayal of the Native Americans can be a bit romanticized but still it helped the course of the novel in a very impactful way.


As with all the successful novels, one of the strong points of the novel is its characterization. Most of the characters however small they may be are depicted with utmost care only to give it a total impact. The character of Fool’s Crow was initially depicted as a feeble one, but on the course of the novel, it grows and later he became the leader of his tribe. Another very important character is Fast Horse, who eventually parted from his tribesmen.


The novel reflects the pressure of the White people on the tribal Blackfeet people and the eventual socio-economic changes of the tribesmen. The role of the women in the tribe was very important as we see the depiction of important women like, Red Paint and Health Woman among others.

Portrayal of Whites

The novel can be dubbed as an honest portrayal of both the natives and the White people. It portrays the dishonest land dealing systems of the United States Government and also other different types of processes that were only directed towards eradication of the traditional ways of lives. The White people considered the natives as a group lesser than human.

General Sully

General Sully is one of the important characters in the novel. General Sully is a direct character in the novel and his meeting with Fool’s Crow took the understanding of the novel in a different sphere. His character may not be as villainous as the other Whites, but still we also can not be term him as a hero.

Lifestyle and discussion

In recent times the life style of the Native American people has been developed a lot. The American Government has been employing special programs only for the benefit of these people. They are going to schools and colleges and also doing other things. So we can say that the scenario has ben thoroughly changed.

We will write a custom
for you!
Get your first paper with
15% OFF
Learn More


In the novel we basically deal with the differences of the two races. They are different in all the aspects. But in recent times that Native American people are embracing the lifestyle of the White men and they are developing in the way.

Historical context

The story is an amalgamation of the civil war and the Marias Massacre. Thus, it can be well stated that this is a story of transition where, at once side, the US is fighting war for humanity to eradicate slavery and on the other hand, they are killing the natives of the country, in this case the Blackfeet (Welch 581). However, it cannot be stated as a historical narrative because it is more aligned with the approach of a novel based on several characters of which some are historical. Thus, it is predominantly a novel and not a real historical narrative.

Portrayal of Whites

Historically dealing, at the era where the novel is set, the Whites were trying to establish their foothold throughout America. At that juncture, they were determined to establish their authority over the continent and as a part of the venture they drove out all the Native American from their native lands, either by tricking them or by force. Basically most of the white people whom we see in the novel can be termed as villains. But General Sully was a bit different from these characters and he had shown some sympathy towards the Blackfeet tribe. Even he arranged a meeting between the tribesmen and the White people regarding the dealings of land (Welch 284). So we can not directly term him as a villain. We can not term him as a villain or a victim; he is just a subordinate character inn the spectrum of characters.


Fool’s Crow is a remarkable book in the sphere of Native American literature. It can be termed as a masterful evocation of the Native American lifestyle and a skillful reporting of the passing of the said culture; this is a piece of history. The importance of the book can be dealt in several parts, from the depiction of the culture to the clash of the civilizations, and from the problems that engulfed the Native American society for long; the book is a mist collectible object for an enthusiast of the Native American culture.

Works Cited

Welch, James. Fools Crow. New York: Penguin, 1987.

Cite this paper

Select style


StudyCorgi. (2021, December 11). Native American Studies: “Fool’s Crow” by Welch. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2021, December 11). Native American Studies: “Fool’s Crow” by Welch.

Work Cited

"Native American Studies: “Fool’s Crow” by Welch." StudyCorgi, 11 Dec. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Native American Studies: “Fool’s Crow” by Welch." December 11, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Native American Studies: “Fool’s Crow” by Welch." December 11, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Native American Studies: “Fool’s Crow” by Welch." December 11, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Native American Studies: “Fool’s Crow” by Welch'. 11 December.

This paper was written and submitted to our database by a student to assist your with your own studies. You are free to use it to write your own assignment, however you must reference it properly.

If you are the original creator of this paper and no longer wish to have it published on StudyCorgi, request the removal.