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Crowfoot: Life is the flash of a firefly in the night


What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across
the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

   --Attributed to Crowfoot (ca 1830-1890), chief of the Canadian Blackfoot tribe.

If you know the source of the quote, please let me know.


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chief crowfoot was my great-great grandfather. that was a quote "last words" said before he went on to be one with the great spirit. if you need to know more.feel free to contact me.
~elise stormcrow

Thank you so much for the information, Elise.

Crowfoot was a remarkable man. I have long been aware of him. He has captured the essence of life: the intangibles.

I have wondered where his grave might be and if there is a monument to this man. We immortalize the Europeans who overwhelmed the native people, should this person not be give a tangible mark on the land?

Dear Elise Stormcrow,

Your great-great grandfather's words in "What is Life" are beautiful. Can you tell me if he said those words in the Kainai language or the Siksika language? If he did, how can I see the original. Did Crowfoot speak English? If he didn't, can you tell me who translated "What is Life" from the beautiful language he spoke it in to English?

Many thanks,
ay hay mistahi
Naomi McIlwraith

Crowfoot's words have given me great comfort,what a wonderful man and may he rest in the embrace of his God

Crowfoot's beautiful imagery has touched my heart and I re-read his poem often. I wonder if he wrote other poetry.

Hello Elise Stormcrow!
This is Inés Cervantes from México

I would like to know more about your great-great grandfather. As his words in "What is Life" are beautiful. Can you tell us if you or your family have something else from his ideas or stories? And how can we find it? Did Crowfoot speak English?
Thanks for answer me!

Hello Eliza, Your great great grandfather came to me in a dream state recently and brought both me and my nephew together in a lovely reconciliation, I saw him clearly. This is the first time this has happened to me. The next day my nephew and I contacted each other and he told me all that he told me in the dreamstate.
I feel very priveleged, Teresa.

This quote is also found in King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard written in 1885, spoken by Umbopa.

The quote in King Solomon's mines by H. Rider Haggard is completely different talking about a feather and seed etc. As a child back in the 1960s, I would be standing in the old Calgary airport Mcall Field and there was a giant mural by Don Freshe with Chief Crowfoot centered with a white glow about him. He stood out almost god like compared to Col. Macleod and Father Lacombe etc. It inspired me to read his biography, I've read it many times. His picture has hung in my living room for many years. The white reporters of the time, and others were quite surprised,
and would note that Chief Crowfoot was a great orater. He stood as one of nobility.

The author of the previous submission is entirely correct; a nearly identical quote appears in King Solomon's Mines, which was published in 1885, five years before the death of Crowfoot. Those interested in the history of this quote may want to read the following short article:

Carlisle, R. S. (1990). Crowfoot's dying speech. Alberta History, 38(3), 16-17.

Was it this picture?

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