Firekeeper’s Daughter

Firekeeper’s Daughter

by

Angeline Boulley

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Firekeeper’s Daughter: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On Lily’s third day, she learns about the next world. Daunis sits next to Lily’s casket and thinks through what she knows about Jamie, who presently shows up with Ron. Ron is a bit older than Mom and clearly Native. He introduces himself as a senior agent with the FBI, and Jamie reveals that he’s a Bureau of Indian Affairs officer. Daunis is wary; these agencies seldom make things better for tribes. Jamie and Ron invite Daunis to come with them and talk about their investigation, and Daunis accepts. As they drive to the high school, Daunis finds she can’t stop thinking about Lily. She tries to pay attention to Ron telling her about how in his last case, he gave a murdered Native woman’s family answers 25 years after her death. 
Daunis’s and Lily’s spirits are on similar paths right now, as they’re both learning about their new worlds. (Lily’s is the afterlife, while Daunis learns about what’s going on in secret with her own world.) Daunis’s skepticism is well-earned; the FBI and the BIA are, after all, federal agencies and part of the same government that created the residential school system, moved Native Americans onto reservations, and systematically tried to wipe out Native people and culture. Knowing how many Native lives the government has taken, it’s not much consolation that Ron helped one Native family find closure.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
The school secretary, Mrs. Hammond, embraces Daunis and asks if Ron is the new “Indian science teacher.” Ron says he’s Native and introduces Jamie, and after some more chit-chat, he leads Daunis and Jamie to Uncle David’s old classroom. Once Daunis is seated at the desk, Ron says that he and Jamie are part of a joint American and Canadian investigation into an uptick in drug trafficking, mostly of meth, in hockey towns in the Great Lakes region. Daunis struggles to focus; she’s lost in her memories of Travis when he was a smart, driven kid. She insists that meth is everywhere, but Ron says they’ve found meth laced with hallucinogenic mushrooms that only grow in various nearby places. Daunis knows Travis only started cooking meth in December, but meth has been a problem longer than that. Who’s responsible?
Though Mrs. Hammond helps Daunis feel like things are normal, it’s also impossible to ignore her bigotry when she asks if Ron is the new “Indian” science teacher. To her, he’s not just a science teacher, like Uncle David was; his Native-ness precedes any other identity markers. There’s a connection here between how Mrs. Hammond refuses to see anything else about Ron other than his Native identity, and how Daunis perceives that Ron and Jamie are erroneously attributing meth problems to her Native community. Meth was, in fact, the hard drug of choice at the time the novel is set (2005), and it impacted communities of all ethnicities. 
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Daunis asks why they’re in Uncle David’s classroom, but she remembers how David didn’t show up for Easter dinner. GrandMary figured he’d relapsed; two weeks later, someone found his car. The toxicology report showed he’d died of a meth overdose. She asks if Ron thinks David was cooking the meth, but Ron says David was their CI—a confidential informant. He continues, explaining that David thought someone he knew was manufacturing. David’s death was suspicious, Ron explains, and his death triggered the undercover FBI operation. Daunis is shocked and ashamed; she doubted her uncle. Mom never did. She sobs.
The revelation that Uncle David was trying to help the FBI eradicate meth from the community, not that he was addicted, is a bombshell for Daunis. It reminds her that there’s always more to people than meets the eye. The fact that GrandMary doubted David, however, points to some possible deeper dysfunction in the Fontaine family, as GrandMary clearly thought David couldn’t be trusted to not abuse substances. Daunis sees it as a reflection on her own moral standing that she agreed with GrandMary in this context.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
When Daunis is done crying, Ron explains that last February, after a Superiors hockey tournament, kids on a Minnesota reservation got really sick. The meth was highly addictive and caused them to hallucinate—a group hallucination. The FBI is calling it meth-X. Ron says they’re trying to identify distributors so they can work back to the manufacturers. David, Ron says, was worried about Travis—and Daunis was a person of interest too. Jamie explains that they saw Daunis’s science fair project about traditional chokecherry pudding’s medicinal properties; she knows Ojibwe culture and science. They believe the manufacturer is similar, though they know it’s not Daunis—she has a trust fund and so no motive. Daunis realizes they want her to take David’s place as the CI.
Notice that as Jamie describes Daunis’s credentials, he purposefully differentiates between Ojibwe culture and (implied) standard, non-Native science. For now, Daunis seems willing to brush Jamie’s opinion aside, but differentiating between Ojibwe culture and non-Native science ignores the fact that there are plenty of Anishinaabe tribes and practitioners who do understand the science behind their remedies—their remedies exist for a reason, after all. This siloed view (differentiating culture from science) highlights Jamie’s unwillingness to see the validity and the importance of Anishinaabe cultures, adding more credence to Daunis’s skepticism that the federal agencies running this investigation will actually be able to respectfully help her community.  
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
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