Food by the Book: Book offers perspective on the complexity of history | Lifestyles

“Fools Crow” (Penguin, 1986) by Blackfeet/Gros Ventre author James Welch is now a classic of Native American literature. The story set in 1870 revolves around White Man’s Dog, an 18-year-old member of the Pikuni Lone Eater Blackfeet tribe who seeks to prove his bravery. Ridiculed by his arrogant friend, Fast Horse, for his lack of affection with women, White Man’s Dog wants nothing more than to go horseback raiding the Crow encampment, make his father proud, and attract a wife. A raid is planned, but just as the party approaches the Crow camp, Fast Horse lets out a battle cry and alerts the enemy warriors. This results in the leader of the raid, Yellow Kidney, being captured and maimed.

White Man’s Dog returns to camp with the wealth of horses he needs to start his own family.

He supports the Yellow Kidney family and marries his daughter, Red Paint. It is decided that a war party should go to the Crow village and take revenge on Yellow Kidney. In the battle, White Man’s Dog kills the Crow leader, Bull Shield, and is subsequently given the new name Fools Crow. As Fools Crow grows in power, the boastful Fast Horse joins a group of marauders who stage bloody raids against the Napikwans, encroaching on the white settlers. Fools Crow is a spiritual person and has had visions of what will result from these actions.

Welch used historical facts mixed with both fictional and real-life characters to reveal the tragic outcome we already know so well. His information comes from stories of those who experienced much of this history and passed it down to his father who told him the stories. With questions about what it means to be a stranger in one’s own country, what includes integrity and honor, and what is a duty to family and the wider community, “Fools Crow” gives us some perspective on the complexity of our history. Welch’s beautiful poetic language offsets some of the harsh reality.

Buffalo or bison was the staple food of the American West. Try it with this recipe along with the summer sweet corn that’s so plentiful right now.

bison burger

1 pound ground bison or beef

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Olive oil for grilling

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons chopped sweet pickles

2 tablespoons ketchup

1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sugar or sugar substitute, optional

Salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes: tomato, lettuce, cheese, pickles

Brioche buns, toasted

Prepare the grill over medium-high heat and oil the grill with a little olive oil spread with a paper towel. Shape bison or ground beef into 2-4 patties, as needed. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. When the coals are set, grill the burgers for about 7 minutes per side until desired doneness (should be medium-rare). Do not overcook the bison or it will be very dry. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl. When the burgers are ready, toast the buns and serve with the toppings of your choice and the sauce. Adapted from

Corn wrapped in foil

4 ears of sweet corn

Olive oil

Salt and pepper


Chopped fresh parsley


Prepare the grill over medium heat or the oven at 400 degrees. Shell the corn, removing all the silk. Spread about 1 teaspoon of olive oil on each ear and place them on individual foil sheets. Season with salt and pepper. Add a knob of butter to each ear. Roll up foil and seal ends. If you are grilling with burgers, place the corn on the grill about 10 minutes before adding the burgers. If using the oven, place the corn packets on a baking sheet and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Add chopped parsley after cooking. Perfect every time.

Sharon D. Cole