Angeline Boulley’s debut novel Firekeeper’s Daughter came out March 16, 2021, and has already made waves in the literary world.
Boulley is a storyteller who writes based on her own experiences as a biracial woman coming of age in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Spending her summers on Sugar Island with the tribal community, her father is a firekeeper. He strikes and tends the ceremonial fires for special activities and cultural ceremonies in their community.
The story follows the adventures of Daunis Fontaine, a young Anishinaabe 18-year-old living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, who, in an attempt to expose corruption in the community, goes undercover in an FBI investigation and uncovers more than she expected.
The novel is described as the "Indigenous Nancy Drew."
“I always loved mysteries and thrillers, but I never saw myself in a book until I was 18, where I finally read a story that had a native main character. And so I just wanted to write this Indigenous Nancy Drew story.”
Boulley is a member of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians, and she shares her experience of growing up as a biracial woman, “everyone deserves to be seen in a story, and I think that when a young person can see themselves in a story, it changes how they view their identity, and their place in the world. It broadens their view of the world and themselves in it.”
Locals from the Sault area will be familiar with some of the scenes described in the book. Daunis runs along the St. Mary’s river and explores the bluffs at Lake State, the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe.
Boulley’s book has caught the attention of Barack and Michelle Obama. Their production company “Higher Grounds Production”, is working with Boulley to develop the novel for a Netflix series. “I’m still in shock over it,” she says.
“I was so happy to have been in Sault Ste. Marie on Tuesday, for the day that my book went on sale. I was able to get up there quickly for a book signing that was at my tribe’s casino, and it was so good to see cousins and friends.”
She shares how special it is returning to the Sault and Sugar Island since the release of the book to tour all the places that Daunis made her mark.
“Firekeeper’s Daughter” is available in bookstores everywhere, online, as well as the audiobook.
Josie Fiegehen is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter based out of SaultOnline