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.
Suspenseful and moving, written with an authenticity and integrity that give it sweeping power, Welch's third novel (The Death of Jim Loney) is a masterful evocation of a Native American culture and its passing. From their lodges on the endless Montana plains, the members of the Lone Eaters band of the Pikuni (Blackfeet) Indians live in harmony with nature, hunting the ``blackhorns'' (buffalo), observing a complex system of political administration based on mutual respect and handing down legends that explain the natural world and govern daily conduct. The young protagonist is first called White Man's Dog, but earns the respected name Fools Crow for meritorious conduct in battle. Through his eyes we watch the escalating tensions between the Pikunis and the white men (``the Napikwans''), who deliberately violate treaties and initiate hostilities with the hard-pressed red men. At the same time, the feared ``white scabs plague'' (smallpox) decimates the Lone Eaters communities, and they realize that their days are numbered. There is much to savor in this remarkable book: the ease with which Fools Crow and his brethren converse with animals and spirits, the importance of dreams in their daily lives, the customs and ceremonies that measure the natural seasons and a person's lifespan. Without violating the patterns of Native American speech, Welsh writes in prose that surges and sings. This bittersweet story is an outstanding work. Illustrated. 25,000 first printing; major ad/promo. (November)