Firekeeper’s Daughter

Firekeeper’s Daughter

by

Angeline Boulley

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Firekeeper’s Daughter: Chapter 2  Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Several hours later, Daunis’s best friend Lily pulls up in her Jeep, with tiny Granny June riding shotgun. Daunis and Lily have been friends since sixth grade, and they’ve bonded over the fact that neither of their skin tones are on the “Acceptable Anishinaabe Skin Tone Continuum”—Daunis is pale, while Lily is reddish-brown. As Daunis folds her six-foot frame into the backseat, Granny June suggests Daunis ride in front. But you just don’t make an Elder accommodate you, so Daunis refuses. Now, it’s time to drive Granny June to lunch at the Nokomis-Mishomis Elder Center and then head to work.
This passage further establishes Daunis’s place (and Lily’s) in the local Native community. Though neither girl fits in visually or physically due to their skin tones, they still honor community rules, such as that it’s inappropriate for them to ask Granny June to accommodate them. They also show Granny June their respect by driving her to the Elder lunch, rather than making her figure out her own transportation.
Themes
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
On the drive, Daunis shares that she told Mom and GrandMary about her college decision. Granny June is incensed and says that “some boats are for the river and some are for the ocean.” Daunis agrees, but she’s not sure what kind of boat she is. She’s happy to attend classes with Lily at Lake State, but she’s also sad to not have the opportunity to escape the gossip that has haunted her her whole life—that her dad, Levi Firekeeper, an “Indian […] with potential,” got Mom (who’s from the richest white family in town) pregnant. Dad broke his legs in a drunk-driving accident, ending his career. Mom went to Montreal and returned with three-month-old Daunis to find Dad married to someone else with a new baby.
As Granny June sees it, Daunis is a boat made for the ocean; that is, she should be traveling far away and doing great things. That Daunis isn’t sure what kind of boat she is, though, indicates that she’s still figuring out who she is and what kind of person she wants to be. What she does know, though, is that she’d ideally like to get away and escape this gossip, which is presumably the “Big Scandal” she mentioned in the previous chapter. Her Fontaine grandparents’ bigotry shines through again, as referring to Daunis’s dad as an “Indian […] with potential” implies that they don’t believe most American Indians have potential at all.
Themes
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Passing a billboard for today’s Tribal Council election, Lily gripes that Daunis’s Auntie Teddie should’ve run for office. After the girls help Granny June out at the senior center, Granny June says that she and Teddie have felonies and have had sex with too many men to get elected. The girls laugh as they head for the Chi Mukwa Arena, where Lily parks on the grass. Noticing Daunis scanning the area for TJ, her ex-boyfriend who’s now a tribal police officer, Lily asks if Daunis invited him to their party this weekend. Daunis retorts that unlike Lily, she doesn’t get back with her ex every weekend.  
Lily and Daunis seem to think that Granny June is playing the mention of her and Auntie having felonies for laughs, but it’s not clear that this is true—she may be more serious here than the girls give her credit for. This then raises the question of what those felonies are and why Granny June and Auntie committed them in the first place. Then, Daunis’s remark about Lily being in an off-again, on-again relationship reveals that Lily is having romantic troubles.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
The arena is also a polling center, and one woman offers Lily and Daunis cookies—but pulls the plate back when another lady says that the girls aren’t enrolled. Daunis and Lily are just descendants of the Sugar Island Ojibwe Tribe, as Lily doesn’t meet the minimum blood-quantum requirement and Daunis’s dad isn’t on her birth certificate. They gripe about not wanting the cookies anyway, but they both licked their lips. They enter the arena and part ways to find their respective groups of kids enrolled in the summer childcare program.
Not being enrolled in the Tribe is an emotionally difficult thing for both Lily and Daunis. Though they don’t want to look desperate (hence saying they didn’t want the cookies anyway), they both clearly crave belonging to the Tribe in a formal, legal sense. Not being enrolled shows too that it’s not just the girls’ skin tones that make them feel like outsiders—they’re outsiders on paper, too.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
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