Discussion Topic

Comparing wilderness living to life in the camps in Fools Crow

Summary:

In Fools Crow, wilderness living contrasts with life in the camps by offering a sense of freedom, self-reliance, and connection to nature. While the camps represent communal living, structured roles, and social obligations, the wilderness provides solitude and spiritual reflection, highlighting different aspects of survival and cultural values within the Native American experience.

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How do the wilderness and camp contrast in Fools Crow?

In James Welch's novel Fool's Crow, none of the Blackfeet Indians or other Natives would have used the terms "wilderness" or "camp." These are terms that would have been used by white outsiders.

For Blackfeet and other Natives, wilderness would be called simply "the world" or "nature." While Westerners often view nature which is not under human control as wilderness, Native Americans view nature as something they are part of. The Earth is considered a mother that nurtures and gives life, rather than something to exploit, tame, or conquer, as many Europeans and their descendants view it.

The "camp" would have been referred to as the village or town by Blackfeet. Camp is something temporary. Blackfeet and other Plains Indians, often called nomadic by outsiders, typically returned to the same sites each year. Their towns were mobile, but the winter towns and summer towns were their habitual places to live. In that respect, they were similar to Vikings, the Irish, or even many Americans traveling to campgrounds in RVs today.

Within both nature and the village, the Blackfeet were expected to live by natural law. The village and its people were seen as part of nature, of it and not separate; animals, plants, and the land itself were seen as relatives to the people.

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Compare wilderness living to life in the camps in Fools Crow.

Blackfeet, or Natives generally, would not refer to nature as "wilderness." That is a term used by Westerners or outsiders, finding nature threatening unless "tamed." Natives would call camps their villages or towns. The question also could be asking to compare Natives living on their own to Natives being forcibly removed to reservations.

If one is comparing living alone to living within the Blackfeet town, outside their town, a lone Blackfoot would not have family or social groups. Typically only those being punished for crimes would be forced into exile alone.

If you are asking about Blackfeet living independently compared to on a reservation, the biggest difference is they were forced onto the reservation by violence. They could not hunt off the reservation or leave it. They lived on army rations, often spoiled or stolen. Their traditional religion was banned, and some chose or were forced to become Christians.

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