Firekeeper’s Daughter

Firekeeper’s Daughter

by

Angeline Boulley

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Firekeeper’s Daughter: Chapter 22 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Daunis bursts into Auntie’s house on the phone with a 911 operator; she only just got service. She shouts that she didn’t need to take Heather’s pulse because Heather was obviously dead. Auntie takes the phone from Daunis, tells the operator that they’ll meet the police at the Duck Island caretaker’s cabin, and squeezes Daunis in a calming hug. Daunis remembers listening to a story on the radio with Coach Bobby about calming animals this way prior to slaughter. Soon after, Daunis leads a bunch of officers and EMTs to Heather’s body, though she refuses to get close to it. Back at the cars, TJ asks Daunis why she was out here earlier. She promptly vomits on his boots and says she was working on a school project. Realizing she needs to call Mom and probably Jamie and Ron, Daunis says she has to call her boyfriend.
Finding Heather’s body may have represented a turning point for Daunis’s maturity, but she still needs support and help from authority figures like Auntie (and in Daunis’s mind, from Coach Bobby). But recalling the radio story about calming slaughter animals also suggests that Daunis feels some connection to the animals—suggesting she feels out of control and possibly in danger. Still, Daunis knows she has a responsibility to get the police and other first responders to Heather’s body, so she’s able to maturely pull herself together enough to get this help for Heather. 
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Over the weekend, Daunis allows Mom to baby her. She texts Jamie to come over on Sunday, and before he arrives, Daunis prepares Mom. Mom has just suggested that maybe Hocus Pocus is a bad movie choice since there are dead people in it, and Daunis inadvertently makes Mom cry by rolling her eyes. As Daunis hugs her crying mother, she says that Jamie is more than a friend and is a good person. She also asks for some privacy, so Mom goes downstairs after greeting Jamie. Then, Daunis moves Mom’s baby monitor next to the TV (Mom has the other receiver downstairs) and drags Jamie to her bedroom.
Daunis has clearly suffered some trauma after finding Heather’s body, but she’s not so unnerved that she can’t get through a lighthearted Halloween movie like Hocus Pocus that includes graveyard imagery and (humorous) dead people. As Daunis moves the baby monitor, she denies Mom the ability to surveil her and treat her like a much younger child. In all ways, then, Daunis is insisting to Mom that she’s more grown-up than Mom gives her credit for and that she is capable of making her own decisions.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
There, as Jamie pets the cat, Herri, Daunis shares that Heather offered her marijuana and ecstasy laced with Viagra at the bonfire. Jamie says that Heather’s death wasn’t suspicious, according to Ron, but Daunis says drowning in September is suspicious. She also says that Heather used to be Heather Swanson—until the Tribe started paying per cap and Joey Nodin, her biological dad, claimed paternity and set Heather’s mom up for a drug bust. As the custodial parent, he gets Heather’s money. Heather’s case even spurred the Tribal Council to insist that non-tribal parents must have their babies DNA tested before those babies can be enrolled.
Though Ron and Jamie ostensibly want Daunis’s help so she can give them insight like she does here, Jamie still seems pretty convinced that Ron is right. Heather’s story exposes one of the issues with per cap in that it creates a situation where adults can take advantage of children who suddenly have monetary value. The changes the Tribe made to its rules and system makes it clear that that kind of abuse is in no way something it condones; per cap is supposed to help people. Still, this makes the case that there are always unintended consequences for any action.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Quotes
Jamie perks up at the revelation that one can find their tribe through DNA testing, but Daunis says it’s not a simple ancestry spit test. The local tribe requires paternity blood testing. Their first idea was to use hair, but there’s a violent history of Native people’s hair being taken from them. The blood is fraught—lots of Native blood has already been spilled—but blood also connects kids to their language and their history. By now, Jamie seems disinterested. He says that he doesn’t want to say bad things about Heather, but it seems in character for her to have had bags of marijuana and crystal meth. Daunis says she still deserves to have someone care about her—and she didn’t see any meth in Heather’s baggies.
It’s unclear if Jamie’s disinterest is genuine or feigned, but either way, he’s concerningly unworried about Daunis’s explanation of the various traumas that Native communities have suffered at the government’s hands and how those traumas continue to impact Native communities today. Instead, he seems far more interested in writing Heather off as an inconsequential drug dealer. In Daunis’s understanding, this isn’t respectful to Heather—Heather deserves to have her death investigated, and if her body was found with meth, it seems increasingly likely her death is related to the meth cell.
Themes
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
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Jamie refuses to let Daunis accompany him to talk with Ron. She’s angry enough to throw the baby monitor at him as he steps out the door, but Macy’s car turns onto Daunis’s street. Daunis didn’t pray for bravery this morning; she prayed for Heather to find love in the next life. Still, she hugs Jamie from behind and kisses his neck.
Daunis discovers once again that she can’t predict the future; she can only make choices based on what she knows. And, even if she might’ve needed some extra bravery today, she’s still doing something far more selfless by praying for Heather.
Themes
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Once Jamie leaves, Daunis goes inside to deal with Mom, who’s crying. Both Daunis and Lily are (and were) good at reading people, but Lily always insisted that their abilities to read their mothers were very different—Mom, for instance, didn’t take it out on Daunis if things went badly with a boyfriend. Daunis hugs Mom and tries not to roll her eyes as Mom sobs that Uncle David can’t walk Daunis down the aisle.
The implication here is that Lily suffered a lot while living with her mom—and that Daunis perhaps didn’t grasp how dangerous Lily’s life was. Even now, Daunis doesn’t seem to fully comprehend that Lily suffered either physically or emotionally when her mom was unhappy, while Daunis is simply annoyed that her mom is so upset.
Themes
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
While Mom naps, Daunis can’t bring herself to finish Hocus Pocus on her own. She’s fidgety and keeps hearing Uncle David in her head, telling her to “Work the problem” and think like a scientist. He always appreciated Daunis’s curiosity—once, when GrandMary told Daunis that curiosity killed the cat, he quipped that satisfaction “revived her.” Suddenly, Daunis remembers that David kept detailed notebooks. Certainly, one is filled with his research on the investigation. He probably found something he wasn’t supposed to know, and that’s why he’s dead.
Daunis is coming to the investigation with an Indigenous perspective, so she values thinking ahead, making choices that help the community, and valuing lives like Heather’s even if they maybe aren’t pertinent to the investigation. But that doesn’t exist separately from Daunis’s scientific background. She can call on her scientific training when it seems necessary to do so, highlighting again that Daunis has a foot in both worlds.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon