People of the Fire

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People of the Fire
Author W. Michael Gear
Kathleen O'Neal Gear
Country United States
Language English
Series The First North Americans
Genre Historical novel
Publisher Tor Books
Publication date
January 1991
Media type Print (Softcover)
Pages 467 pp
ISBN 3-7145-0049-5
Preceded by People of the Wolf
Followed by People of the Earth

People of the Fire is a 1991 historical fiction novel written by husband-and-wife co-authors W. Michael Gear & Kathleen O'Neal Gear. It dramatizes the transition of Native American culture from Paleo-Indian to Archaic as a result of climatic warming, set in the High Plains and Western Rockies region. It is the second book in the The First North Americans series.

Plot summary[edit]

Amid disastrous climate changes, the Red Hand and Short Buffalo tribes struggle for survival, and against each other. In order to survive in the changing world, they must change with it, but to do that, they need the guidance of a new Dreamer, and the Red Hand's sacred Wolf Bundle must be renewed.

Main characters[edit]

Little Dancer/Fire Dancer: A young man of the Red Hand raised in a village of the Short Buffalo People, Little Dancer struggles to understand and come to grips with his emerging shamanic Power. He later becomes Fire Dancer after said Power comes into full bloom.

Two Smokes: An aging berdache who helps raise Little Dancer while seeking to glean a new food source in light of the dwindling numbers of buffalo.

Elk Charm: The love-interest of Little Dancer, she leaves the Red Hand camp after completing her first menstruation, fearing ambush and rape by Blood Bear.

Tanager: An independent-minded Red Hand warrior-woman amazingly skilled in battle. She is renowned for her ability to outrun men, to evade flying war-darts (spears launched by means of an atlatl) and her ferocity in battle.

Blood Bear: Ferocious war-leader of the Red Hand who becomes Keeper of the Wolf Bundle after reclaiming it from the Short Buffalo People, but shows no respect to the sacred object in private. He is revealed to be Little Dancer's biological father.

Heavy Beaver: Chief of the Short Buffalo tribe who uses false Dreams to obtain power for himself. Heavy Beaver suffers greatly from an Oedipus complex, struggling to prove his worth to the memory of his dead mother.

White Calf: The ancient medicine woman who teaches Little Dancer to harness his Dreams.