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Violence Against Women in Fools
Crow and Perma Red
Erin Fenner
• In the U.S. Native women are more likely than
any other racial group of women to be
sexually assaulted. They also receive scant
coverage in the media for those attacks. Most
media, instead, focuses on violent crimes
committed by men of color, even though 60%
of rapes against Native women are committed
by whites. (Smith 26-8) That is why it is
essential for authors to explore issues of
violence against Native women thoughtfully.
Fools Crow
•Explores the culture of
American Indians.
•Leaves women
characters generally
•Features rape, but does
very little to deconstruct
•Ie…Yellow Kidney
regrets what he did, but
only because the girl
was dying. Also, the
community says nothing
about the rape, and
credits all of Yellow
Kidney’s misfortunes to
Fast Horse’s mistakes.
Character development
• Red Paint’s character isn’t
really expanded on past
tanning hides and being
with Fools Crow.
• Kills Close to the Lake is
likely Welch’s way to show
problems in a polygamist
society, and how they were
resolved. But, she features
little character beyond
being an entity of conflict
and loneliness.
• The female characters who
are strong, primarily devote
their strength to men.
• Heavy Shield Woman makes
her offering to be the
medicine woman at the Sun
Dance in hopes that it will
bring back Yellow Kidney.
• Feather woman imparts
valuable information to
Fools Crow, but is forever
longing to be back with her
Sexual Violence
• Yellow Kidney is described as “fornicating” with the
Crow girl. It is not ever referred to as rape within the
novel, even though the girl is young and of the
opposing tribe.
• The remorse comes because she was dying, not
because he thinks the act was inherently bad.
• The tribe does not condemn his actions, but focuses
their anger on what happened to Yellow Kidney on the
mistakes of Fast Horse.
• “Although it wasn’t said, there was no doubt that it was
Fast Horse’s loud boasting that caused these bad things
to happened to Yellow Kidney.” (Welch 81-2)
Perma Red
•There is more violence
against women in Perma
Red, but it does so in a way
to specifically address that
violence and challenge it.
•Humanity was portrayed in
each character – so
violations were understood.
•Baptiste’s actions against
Louise are inexcusable, but
Charlie’s reactions to it limit
the community. Baptiste’s
incarceration will not save
Louise from threat of
violence – nor other Native
• “Mainstream remedies for
addressing sexual and domestic
violence in the U.S have proven
inadequate for combating sexual
and domestic violence, especially
for women of color. The answer is
not simply to provide
‘multicultural services’ to
survivors. Rather, the analysis of
and strategies around addressing
gender violence must also
address how gender violence is a
tool of racism, economic
oppression, and colonialism, as
well as patriarchy.” Andrea Smith,
from her book Conquest
• Throughout Perma Red, Louise
is dealing with the limitations
she faces for being woman
and being Native. The two are
inexorably linked for her.
• “Because Indian bodies are
‘dirty,’ they are considered
sexually violable and ‘rapable,’
and the rape of bodies that
are considered inherently
impure or dirty simply does
not count.” (Smith 10)
• The mere fact that dominant
culture views Native women
as violable means that Louise
will not be safe until dominant
culture and its punitive
practices are challenged.
• Louise, is an elusive, but welldeveloped character. She
represents strength, passion
and tradition.
• The community reactions
against violence are
representative of the roles
violence plays in this
• Earling’s argument seems to
be that dominant culture is
responsible for the majority of
• Baptiste’s hopeful change of
heart at the end seems to
substantiate it.
• “He drank because the white
man had told him he couldn’t
drink. He had convinced
himself he was winning the
battle, but even with Harvey
Stoner dead and gone he was
losing his own life to drink. He
had already lost the will to
fight.” (Earling 301)
• He begins the process of
healing when he puts aside
Euro American culture and his
resentment toward it. His
violence toward Louise is likely
a symptom of colonization.
• Perma Red accomplishes an intersectional
approach to Native issues, where Fools Crow
falls short.
• It represents a culture more thoroughly and
intimately from perspectives of men and
women, and presents a possible argument for
how to challenge it.