“Blue Winds Dancing” Summary: Tom Whitecloud Short Story Plot Synopsis

“Blue Winds Dancing” is a short story by Tom Whitecloud about a young Indian man in college who feels compelled to return home. Here’s a summary of “Blue Winds Dancing”.

Blue Winds Dancing” Summary

This evening, the narrator sees geese flying southward, going home. He feels drawn to his home as well—the beat of drums, the blue winds dancing and the Indian lodge where his people will gather.

He’s in college in Wisconsin. His home is beyond the mountains. He remembers the smell of the food, the air, the animals and the tracks in the snow. There’s no rushing or classes or worrying about how you’ll fit into society. They share, sing their own songs and make their own things. He’s tired of being civilized, which means doing what everyone else is doing, always being dissatisfied.

He’s told his people are inferior. He’s going to catch a freight train heading across the mountains and get home for Christmas. People will say he’s regressing, but he doesn’t care.

Blue Winds Dancing SummaryTom Whitecloud Short Story Plot Synopsis
“Blue Winds Dancing” Summary

A group of hobos talk and smoke. They’re free from society but pay the price for it. Their views aren’t extreme; the radicals live in the city.

He meets a fellow headed for Albuquerque and they catch the east-bound train and ride in a cattle car. The narrator feels content as he’s headed home. At El Paso, the other fellow departs for Houston. On the Rio Grande, he sees Indians selling pottery.

He surreptitiously jumps on the Santa Fe train (they’re kept clear of vagabonds), keeping close to the cold steel wall of the coaltender. He avoids any hazards. He passes through small towns and into Minnesota.

Reaching Woodruff at midnight, he’s only twenty miles from home and feels afraid. He’s not sure how he’ll be received by his father and his people. In the morning, he cleans up and buys presents for his family. In the evening, he heads up the track toward home.

He takes his time walking along the railroad bed. He’s alone but not lonely like he was on the campus. He sees a deer and feels welcomed back. He looks at the smoke coming out of the chimneys.

“Blue Winds Dancing” Summary, Cont’d

He crosses the reservation boundary and into the woods. He soon hears the drums beating. He passes the simple box houses. The village isn’t impressive but he’s not ashamed of it, either.

When he enters his house, his father, brother and sister are at the table. He cries on his father’s shoulder and playfully wrestles with his brother. He gives the presents; his sister carefully saves bits of the red string. Without asking, his father seems to know why he’s come. He sends the narrator along to the lodge.

Walking across the clean snow, he feels welcomed and among friends. Reaching the lodge door, he’s afraid he won’t be recognized and wonders if he’s still Indian. Hearing the ice groan on the lake reminds him of the story of the old woman under the ice. He knows she’s there, which means he’s Indian. He goes inside.

There are many Indians—men and women, young and old. Many are paying close attention to the rhythm of the music. When the dance ends, the men walk back to the walls. There’s little conversation, which is unlike a gathering of white people. They’re sharing a mood instead. They’re happy being with each other.

He makes eye contact with some of the older ones and they acknowledge him subtly. All the eyes are friendly and no one questions his presence. The drums start up again. He perceives the invitation in the eyes of the old men and his feet lift to the rhythm. He’s happy and he’s home.

I hope this summary of “Blue Winds Dancing” was helpful.