True to his name, Tony is something of a loner who has always been ostracized because of his strange face, disfigured due to fetal alcohol syndrome—which Tony calls “the Drome.” He has an adversarial relationship… (read full character analysis)
Dene Oxendene is a storyteller at heart, a man on a mission to collect the stories of Native Americans living in Oakland in order to continue on the project his uncle Lucas died before finishing… (read full character analysis)
Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield’s story begins when she is a girl of twelve, dragged along to the Native occupation of Alcatraz island by her freewheeling mother. Opal and her half-sister, Jacquie Red Feather… (read full character analysis)
When readers first meet Jacquie, she is an eighteen-year-old girl going wild on Alcatraz during the Native occupation of the island in the early 1970s. She drags her younger half-sister, Opal, along on her… (read full character analysis)
A native man on the powwow committee at the local Indian Center in Oakland. Calvin is living with his sister, Maggie, and his niece, Sonny, when his brother, Charles, comes to him… (read full character analysis)
A fourteen-year-old Native boy. Though he is Jacquie Red Feather’s biological grandson, he and his younger brothers, Lony and Loother, are being raised by their great-aunt Opal after Jacquie found it too difficult… (read full character analysis)
An Oakland drug dealer whose intimidating, tough demeanor masks a deep and fierce love for his family. Octavio has known great sorrow and loss throughout his life, losing his mother and brother in a car… (read full character analysis)
The child of Jacquie Red Feather and Harvey, Blue was adopted at birth by a wealthy white family. Raised in a upscale suburb of Oakland, Blue grew up knowing she was Native American, but… (read full character analysis)
When readers first meet Harvey, he is a rambunctious and heavy-drinking teen whose family is participating in the occupation of Alcatraz at the same time as Jacquie, Opal, and their mother, Vicky… (read full character analysis)
The boyfriend of Edwin Black’s mother, Karen. Bill, a Native man, works at the Oakland Coliseum. Though Edwin doesn’t like Bill very much, Bill is nonetheless devoted to Karen and to Edwin as… (read full character analysis)
Octavio’s cousin, who is a young tech and coding whiz. In the basement of his mother’s house, Daniel uses a 3-D printer to make the guns that Octavio, Charles, Carlos, Calvin… (read full character analysis)
The janitor at the Indian Center in Oakland. He is fired from his job for drinking while at work, but feels redeemed by his love of music and rhythm when he joins a drum circle performing at the Big Oakland Powwow.
Dene’s deceased uncle, and Opal’s long-lost boyfriend. Lucas is a heavy-drinking boom mic operator in Los Angeles who dreams of making movies. Before Lucas dies, he passes on to Dene the idea of making a film which collects raw, unedited stories of people within the Native American community.
A smug white hipster competing against Dene for an arts grant.
Jacquie and Opal’s mother. She is a hard-drinking woman who brings the girls along as she decides to join the occupation of Alcatraz in the early 1970s.
A boy whom Opal meets and befriends while living on Alcatraz. He is Harvey’s younger brother.
Edwin’s mother and Bill Davis’s girlfriend. She is caring and concerned, but has trouble motivating her son to make the right choices.
Calvin’s sister, with whom he’s currently living.
Calvin’s young niece.
Calvin’s brother. A young man who has gotten in over his head in the drug trade, and must now answer for the mistakes he’s made by assisting Octavio in coming up with a large sum of money.
Charles’s constant companion and associate.
Jacquie Red Feather’s deceased daughter, an addict who committed suicide many years ago. Jamie was the mother of Orvil, Lony, and Loother, and gave them their distinctively spelled names.
Lony Red Feather
Orvil and Loother’s brother, Jamie’s son, and Jacquie’s grandson.
Loother Red Feather
Orvil and Lony’s brother, Jamie’s son, and Jacquie’s grandson.
Octavio’s cousin and Daniel’s brother. He is a young boy who dies in a violent drug-related incident.
Octavio’s grandmother. She is a kind and caring half-Native woman who believes in the power of nontraditional medicine and ritual.
Octavio’s uncle, who is responsible for the deaths of Octavio’s mother and brother when all three of them are in a car accident.
Blue’s abusive husband in Oklahoma.
One of Blue’s friends in Oklahoma who helps her get to the bus station in Oklahoma City when she needs to escape her abusive husband, Paul.
Geraldine’s brother and one of Paul’s friends.
Bobby Big Medicine
The kindly leader of a Native drumming group in Oakland.