Firekeeper’s Daughter

Firekeeper’s Daughter

by

Angeline Boulley

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Firekeeper’s Daughter: Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Jamie shows up in Daunis’s driveway two days later for a morning run. Daunis leaves her semaa and prays, and she then studies Jamie: he’s her height, but so lean that she outweighs him. Jamie observes that Daunis is close to Levi, but Daunis shrugs that Levi is annoying. Then, she asks about Jamie’s family. Jamie has no siblings, just divorced parents and his uncle Ron. They begin their run through the Lake State campus; Jamie notes Daunis’s last name on the new dorm. Behind the student union, where they can see the river, Daunis stops and points toward Lake Superior and then points out Sugar Island. When a freighter’s horn surprises Jamie, Daunis tells him about the series of government-owned locks. The development destroyed Anishinaabeg villages, but Daunis says that’s a story for another day.
It can be true both that Levi and Daunis are close, and that Levi is annoying—Daunis has made this pretty clear already as she’s described Levi and her relationship to him. Daunis’s economic privilege comes to the forefront again as Jamie observes her family name on the dorm. Still, Daunis’s main focus seems to be on introducing Jamie to Anishinaabe history and how the federal and state governments have systematically destroyed (or at least changed) life for Native people in the area. This introduces readers to one of the novel’s main conflicts: the way that Native communities and government entities interact.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Jamie, however, refuses to share anything about himself, so he and Daunis resume discussing local customs. Daunis explains that Anishinaabe means “Original People,” but it usually refers to the Great Lakes tribes. They speak Anishinaabemowin, and Daunis warns Jamie that Levi will soon ask him to ask her for a Nish nickname. Jamie reveals that Levi already wants him to ask how to say “Scarface.” By now, they’ve reached the nursing home; Daunis explains that GrandMary is there. Jamie surprises Daunis by asking how she is, but Daunis isn’t ready to share. Later, Daunis calls Lily, and they discuss where Jamie might’ve come from—and what the deal is with his girlfriend.
Recall that Levi and Daunis share a father; their dad is Native. It’s interesting, then, that Daunis seems to embrace Anishinaabe culture and know the language far more and better than Levi, despite both of them having similar backgrounds. Indeed, Levi seems to see being Native as more of a fact to prop up his public image, not as something to fully embrace. Jamie, however, seems more interested in being respectful: he's been told to ask how to say “Scarface,” but he doesn’t actually ask. He’d rather Daunis volunteer this information, suggesting either that he’s uncomfortable with Levi’s demand—or that he already values his relationship with Daunis more highly than his with Levi.
Themes
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
It’s raining the next morning, so Jamie and Daunis run on treadmills at the Chi Mukwa fitness center. Wanting to be respectful, Daunis asks Jamie to tell her whatever he wants about himself. He says his dad is Cherokee and his parents divorced; Uncle Ron is the only family member supportive of hockey. Daunis thinks Jamie must be so easy to be around because their stories are so similar and notes that Jamie also did figure skating. Jamie is shocked Daunis identified this, but Daunis explains that GrandMary insisted that Daunis learn to figure skate. After their run, Jamie drops Daunis off at EverCare—and he’s still there when she’s done visiting. In the car, Jamie reveals that his girlfriend’s name is Jen. Her dad’s in the military, so she gets what it’s like to move a lot.
Jamie is, perhaps, not used to being around people who are intimately familiar with the different skating styles that hockey players and figure skaters develop, so Daunis identifying his figure skating history is a bit uncomfortable for him. For now, though, it’s unclear if he’s uncomfortable because of shame or some other reason. As he describes his relationship with Jen, Jamie highlights that he’d like to connect with people who understand what he’s going through, as a kid who’s moved around a lot. In that sense, Daunis isn’t his perfect partner: she’s lived in the Sault her entire life.
Themes
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Jamie’s presence seems to blur the line between Hockey World and Regular World. By Friday, Daunis looks forward to their runs. Smiling as they run through downtown, Daunis shares that once, Levi and Travis sold sweetgrass to tourists and claimed theirs was magical. Jamie asks if Stormy, another hockey player, was in on it too, but Daunis explains that Stormy’s dad wouldn’t let Stormy help. She says there will be sweetgrass at the powwow this weekend, offers to show Jamie around the event, and explains that the boys stopped selling the sweetgrass when the casino opened and per capita started. The per capita system seems to offend Jamie, but Daunis says it’s just like companies paying shareholders. Adults get about $36,000 before taxes, and minors get a third of that.
Daunis seems to see the sweetgrass anecdote as charming and humorous, but it’s also worth noting that Levi and Travis played into racist stereotypes about Native Americans by selling “magical” sweetgrass to (presumably white) tourists, even if they did so for their own gain. The per-capita system was established and legalized in 1988, and it allowed certain types of tribal casinos to disburse payments to enrolled tribal members. As Daunis sees it, it’s a way for Native communities to support their members. Jamie, however, seems to embrace the stereotype that Native communities are shamefully awash with gambling money. This stereotype often (and often incorrectly) links per-cap payments to rampant drug use and unemployment on reservations. 
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Ceremony, Pride, and Healing Theme Icon
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Daunis explains that she, however, gets no money because she’s not an enrolled tribal member—her dad isn’t on her birth certificate, thanks to her Fontaine grandparents. She and Jamie observe that being Native is hard: it means different things to different people, and some people will never think Daunis is “Native enough.” When they reach EverCare, Daunis invites Jamie to meet GrandMary. Inside, Jamie greets GrandMary in French, shocking Daunis.
Daunis implies that GrandMary and Grandpa Lorenzo actively kept Mom from putting Dad on Daunis’s birth certificate, thereby making it significantly harder for her to officially be a part of the Tribe. This suggests that they would rather Daunis be less Native; Daunis and Jamie, meanwhile, both struggle with feeling like Native folks would like them to be more Native (whatever, exactly, that means).
Themes
Generational Trauma and Bigotry Theme Icon
Love, Honesty, and Respect Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon