Embracing the Crow

Crows and ravens share their inheritance

Crows and ravens share their inheritance

In summer and fall mornings a flock of crows—a murder of crows—flies over our roof, headed north toward the Columbia River.

We reckon they’re flying toward food.

They shout at one another and sometimes a sentinel squats in a high branch blaring commands at the troops.

At dusk the murder returns south, cruising aloft, heading homeward.

Portland crow-parents protect their young by dive-bombing at passers-by.

In my neighborhood a kind soul nails a poster to a tree each spring that warns walkers and joggers of kamikaze flyers.

Wear a hat.

Better yet, wear a helmet.

A few weeks ago, when I was crossing a street in downtown Los Angeles, I heard what sounded like a woodpecker striking a pole.

Looking up, I saw a crow drumming a traffic light.

The woman waiting beside me for the light to change pointed up and said, “cuervo.”

She shook her head. “Malo. Very bad.”

My relationship with crows is complicated.

I’m not a fan yet I cannot escape them. Crows are embedded in my life.

Their cries annoy me and their armies frighten me, but they have decided to protect me.

They appear without invitation in my dreams and leave their feather offerings in my wake.

No matter how hard I try to evade them, crows always find me.

I wish my Indian name was exotic. Mysterious. Bewitching.

Eagle Heart. Brave Bear. White Hair.

My Lakota family members call me Eshta Toto (Blue Eyes).

But I’m destined to be identified with crows.


Crow Woman.

My Indian colleagues gathered to remember my mother when she passed a few years ago and my friend Cornel sang a heart-felt offering to Wakonda.

As I embraced each person an electric pulse ran up my spine and through my hair.

A blanket was placed on my shoulders and Cornel said the blue and white colors reminded him of me.

Right in the middle of the blanket is perched a crow.

Blog #8 for Native American Heritage Month


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, Indian, Native American Heritage Month, writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Embracing the Crow

  1. Andy says:

    I love crows-they are very intelligent, maybe the most intelligent of birds. I read a book, Crow Planet, a year or so ago. Learnt all sorts about them-they fly upside down mimicking planes in an air show, drop nuts on the road for cars to break, near traffic lights, then retrieve them when the lights are on red. They hold ‘Crow funerals’-really! Amazing birds. 🙂


Leave a Reply to Andy Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s