'Firekeeper's Daughter' author comes to TC

·3 min read

Jul. 22—TRAVERSE CITY — Since its release in March, "Firekeeper's Daughter" by Ojibwe author Angeline Boulley has quickly surged throughout the nation.

Within weeks of the book and author making their debut, it become an instant No. 1 New York Times bestseller, and will soon be adapted on Netflix as an original TV series under Barack and Michelle Obama's production company, Higher Ground Productions.

The groundbreaking YA thriller follows 18-year-old Daunis Fountaine, a mixed Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) teen who felt like she never quite fit in, both in her hometown of Bahweting (Sault Saint Marie) and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation.

Fountaine dreams of a fresh start at college, but after a family tragedy strikes, and witnessing a shocking murder, she is thrown into an FBI investigation of a lethal new drug that is consuming her community.

The search for the truth leads Foutaine through a series of plot twists that command her to understand what it takes to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (woman).

The fictional story is Ojbwe from start to finish, speaking to non-Indigenous readers from a perspective of Ojibwe life and culture that is misrepresented and often misunderstood.

For Ojibwe readers, it gives familiarity, recognition and a voice.

Melissa Isaak, Anishinaabe from the Mount Pleasant area, said she normally doesn't read thrillers but the novel was hard to put down. The first chapter she recalled being emotional.

Boulley dives headfirst into the complications of addiction, lateral violence, blood quantum and other issues facing Indigenous communities, as well as the complexity of identity that Native Americans face everyday said Issak. She adds that the book also celebrates the close kinship of Indigenous women.

"Daunis is us, We are Daunis. Never, in my lifetime, as an Anishinaabe kwe, have I identified more with a book than I do with 'Firekeeper's Daughter.' Trauma, identity, school, love interests, family, culture, and laughter are beautifully woven together to tell our story of resilience," said Isaak.

She said that she hopes Boulley continues to tell more stories, jokingly adding that "the aunties say so!"

Boulley is an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, a storyteller who writes about her Ojibwe community in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Storytelling is rich in Anishinaabek culture, on her website she states that "there simply are too few stories told by and about Indigenous girls and women, especially from a contemporary viewpoint."

Making Horizon Books' selectiona more inclusive place for BIPoC authors and readers is a focus, said Juan Tineda, Horizon Books manager.

"It's important for the (Anishinaabe) community to feel reflected," Tineda said about the visibility for Indigenous authors and books. He said that he personally sought Boulley to come for a book signing because her writing is "unique, it sticks to the wall, and this is a remarkable story."

Tineda added, "I am really excited for her to be here, she's a remarkable storyteller."

Boulley will be at Horizon Books on July 24 from 1-3 p.m. for an in-person signing at the front of the store. The hardcover book will be available for purchase.

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