John Hirst Hist 421 Essay #1 9-25-01 The Pikunis of the book, Fools Crow, are a group whose world undergoes drastic changes at the hands of white settlers, or Napikwans (also known as Crows). For centuries, Native Americans had lived in relative isolation from the ways of western civilization. However, the arrival and eventual migration westward of Europeans on American soil, signaled intense reformations of the ways in which they lived their lives. This change was brought on by the greedy ways of the white man.
These Napikwans had a desire to gain more land and wealth than they necessarily deserved. They continued to push their way into Blackfoot territory and, with false promises of gifts and peace. The Indians, who, for the most part, desired peace, were lied to by the Napikwan Army, called seizors. Once the seizors realized they could lie to the Pikunis, they continued to take advantage of the Blackfeet's inherently peaceful ways.
Unfortunately for the majority of the Pikunis, they did not realize the tragedy of the situation until it was too late. So much of their land had already been swindled from them and they were being squeezed as well as attacked by white citizens of the territory.
There was little or nothing that the Indians could do to stop the white advancement. About the only factor they had any real control over was the speed with which the robbery of their land came. Still, however, this was something that was almost completely out of their hands. The only reason I say they had any control over it was because the U.S. government seemed to get impatient and frustrated with renegade Indian attacks on the private citizens of Montana. This, unfortunately though, was the work of only a few of the Blackfeet. Tribal outcasts such as Owl Child and Fast Horse were responsible for the transgressions that got the entire Blackfoot tribe, and even more so the whole Indian Nation punished. Had the tribal chiefs been able to stop these few who endangered the many, they may have been able to delay what was inevitable anyway.
The only other option seemingly available to them was to go to war with the white man. An already daunting task given the sheer number of Napikwans in the country compared to Indians, it was to be even harder than that. The problem with a battle was getting everyone on the same page. This would be a nearly impossible task considering that some tribes hated each other as much as they hated the Crows. This factor itself would have made a unified front, much less a victory, a near impossibility.
With fighting likely being a last resort, the Pikunis were forced to find alternate ways of dealing with the increasingly difficult situation.
One possible solution was to continue to try and negotiate for peace. This seemed to be the popular opinion, especially amongst the chiefs. As I stated before, the Pikunis were a naturally peaceful group, at least when it came to the Napikwans. They were not above war and saw it as a necessary institution at times, but for the most part they seemed to want to live their lives in peace. This would not be, though. Whether it was because whites felt the need to defend themselves against raiding Indian parties, or, more likely, their whole intention was to rob the Native Americans of their land by any means necessary, the peace process was to be a long, slow, and ultimately doomed one.
Another option was to move. This was not favored by seemingly every blackfoot, and rightfully so. Had they agreed to move farther and farther west, or up into Canada past the Medicine Line, they would have been pushed around and taken advantage even more harshly than they already were. In addition, moving an entire band, much less tribe, of Indians, one of which contained as many people as the Blackfeet, or more specifically the Pikunis or even just the Lone Eaters would be tremendously difficult. In a harsh climate area such as Montana, a move could result in many deaths from disease, starvation and cold.
The Pikunis in Fools Crow suffered tragically and unjustly at the hands of the Napikwans. And while they may have done some things to hamper the peace process, they were merely unfortunate victims of the greed of the white man.