After thinking about Mr. P’s words to him, Junior tells his parents that he wants to transfer immediately to the high school in Reardan, a rich, white farm town twenty-two miles away.
Junior recognizes that going to a wealthy, all-white school will be a way to escape the effects of racism and poverty on the rez. For the first time, he is taking real action to achieve his dreams, rather than simply drawing or telling Rowdy about them in private, and he makes the decision on his own—an important step in growing up.
Junior’s parents quickly agree to his plan, even though it will be difficult to get him to school every day. However, Junior’s mom warns him that since Junior will be the first person to leave the rez this way, the other members of the tribe will be angry and might see him as a traitor.
Because the Indians all suffer together from racism and poverty, some see the idea of one person trying to escape that shared burden as a betrayal and a denial of Indian heritage. Here, Junior is identified as the first person to leave the rez, which singles him out as someone special, but also as someone who doesn’t belong.