Firekeeper’s Daughter

Firekeeper’s Daughter

by

Angeline Boulley

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Firekeeper’s Daughter: Chapter 26 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Anxiously worrying about what Auntie might know about the investigation, Daunis sits down. She burns with shame as Auntie says she didn’t want to do “this” here, but Daunis has been avoiding her. Daunis opens an envelope with two photos in it, one of her, Levi, and Dad skating, and another of Dad holding her as a baby. Next, Daunis pulls out an application for tribal enrollment and a notarized letter from Mom stating that her parents wouldn’t let her put Dad on Daunis’s birth certificate. There’s a family tree and affidavits from family members, insisting Daunis is Levi Firekeeper’s daughter. Daunis has a week to submit the paperwork (until her 19th birthday), and Auntie says she and Daunis will have to take blood tests.
Daunis comes into this feeling guilty—she knows dishonesty isn’t a good quality, and she’s avoided Auntie specifically because that seems easier than being openly dishonest with her. But when Auntie presents Daunis with the tribal enrollment application, it hits home in part because it shows Daunis just how much Auntie wants Daunis to be a part of something bigger. This, Auntie (and Mom, through her notarized letter) suggests, is where Daunis belongs, even if Daunis hasn’t always felt like she’s truly a part of the local tribal community.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Daunis has wanted this for a long time. Being Anishinaabe and being enrolled aren’t the same thing—but being enrolled won’t change Daunis’s identity. She says she doesn’t need a card to define her, but Auntie says this is a gift from Dad. Granny June tells Daunis to think about her children and grandchildren—people must think seven generations ahead when making big choices. Daunis also thinks about the investigation. Maybe Daunis should be part of the investigation because unlike Jamie and Ron, she’s thinking seven generations ahead. She agrees to enroll. Auntie notes that Daunis needs three affidavits from non-related Elders. Just then, Seeney Nimkee hands Daunis an affidavit, followed by Granny June, Minnie, and 23 other elders.
Daunis is right in that having a card won’t change who she is inside. But Granny June and Auntie suggest there’s more to think about than just Daunis. This is a choice that will affect Daunis’s future children, should she choose to have them. It’s also a way for Daunis to honor Dad, highlighting again that the Sugar Island Ojibwe community is made up of the living, the dead, and those yet to come. Receiving the affidavits from so many Elders also shows Daunis that she has more support here than she realizes, even from people she didn’t think liked her, like Seeney.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Quotes
Daunis laughs and cries on her way to catch the Booster Bus, where a woman who knows her accepts her check and offers her a beer. Daunis ignores Grant waving her over and sits next to Ron instead. Bus passengers are mostly Zhaaganaash; Nishnaabs are following in campers. Ron learns why when the sound system blasts “Don’t Stop Believin’” and women begin jumping and screaming. One even flashes a truck driver. Daunis murmurs that these same folks say “Indians can’t hold their liquor.”
The Booster Bus, Daunis insists, is a lesson in white bigotry and hypocrisy: the same people who accuse Native Americans of being uncouth are just as capable of being inappropriately drunk in public and obnoxious. As she sees it, they’re just being racist and trying to justify their own bad behavior by erroneously insisting that all Native Americans, by virtue of being Native, behave worse.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Daunis replays the Elders handing her the affidavits as she tries to read The Sound and the Fury. Ron finally comments that she hasn’t turned a page in 20 minutes. When Daunis says she barely understands what’s going on, Ron helps her figure out what the book is actually about: time, rather than the individual events. This almost makes Daunis cry because Ron reminds her so much of Uncle David. She fears that eventually, she’ll stop thinking about David and Lily every day. She knows this is just because “memories are fickle” and can fade, but she’s afraid of going on without Lily.
Ron is an interesting figure for Daunis because he’s both a sort of enemy (as a federal agent) and an ally or mentor. Accepting his help here is difficult in part because it reminds Daunis that Uncle David and Lily are gone, and also because she won’t be able to ask for their help again. Rather, she’ll have to start reaching out to new people, like Ron in this case. It’s also worth noting that Daunis observes how “memories are fickle” here. Each time she dreams about Lily’s death, she remembers new pieces of the night—highlighting that memory is indeed unreliable and is particularly influenced by trauma.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
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Daunis feels like she’s in a fog until Grant slides in next to her at the game. Hearing a Zhaaganaash bring up per cap, Daunis considers leaving so she doesn’t have to listen to their bigotry—but she’s uninterested in crawling over either Grant or Ron. So, she sits and listens to people discuss a classmate of Daunis’s, Ryan, enrolling in the Tribe. Ryan is notorious for riling up Nishnaabs, but apparently his dad is Joey Nodin. One man in the conversation, a lawyer, crows that as part of his payment for helping Ryan enroll, he gets a percentage of Ryan’s per-cap earnings for a decade. Ron pats Daunis’s arm, and she realizes she’s clenching her fists. Daunis thinks of Lily, who couldn’t enroll because her grandpa is from Canada—her blood wasn’t pure enough.
At the game, Daunis is a captive audience to Zhaaganaash bigotry and cruelty. When it comes to Ryan, the implication is that while he might be Joey Nodin’s biological son, he hasn’t been raised with any cultural or emotional ties to the Tribe. Instead, he’s enrolling on what’s essentially a technicality for the money. Daunis recognizes that this is wildly unfair when Ryan is, for all intents and purposes, culturally Zhaaganaash—and yet Lily, who was Ojibwe in terms of culture and blood, just didn’t have quite enough blood to make the legal transition to enrolled member. Even these legal frameworks that are supposed to help Anishinaabe folks, this shows, don’t always end up doing that.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Quotes
After the game, Ron quietly tells Daunis that he told Jamie to slow down the whole boyfriend-girlfriend thing. He says that new field agents sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, and he could tell on Sunday that either Jamie or Daunis wasn’t acting.
Daunis has been mostly letting herself feel her feelings for Jamie over the last couple weeks, so it shouldn’t come as a shock to her that Ron noticed her doing this. However, it’s still unclear whether Jamie is also beginning to drop the act and develop genuine feelings for Daunis.
Themes
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon