The Aleuts break camp and prepare to leave the island. Seeing this, the people of Ghalas-at go down to meet them on the shore. The warriors go to the beach while the women wait in the brush along the cliff. Karana's father confronts Captain Orlov. Though Orlov offers a chest full of trinkets, Chowig insists that his people are owed three more, and will not let the Aleuts leave with the otter pelts until the villagers of Ghalas-at have been paid.
The Aleuts make to leave despite Chowig's warning. Chowing steps in the way of one of the Aleuts carrying pelts back to the ship, and a skirmish breaks out. Many of the villagers are killed, and the Aleuts escape back to their ship, leaving the chest and a few of the remaining otter pelts on the beach. Karana's father is killed in the battle, and she and the other villagers agree that it was because Chowig told Orlov his secret name that he was unable to properly defend himself and was killed.
In the aftermath of the battle, only fifteen men are left alive in the village where there was once forty-two. The villagers bury their dead once the storm that broke the day of the battle has ended. They burn the bodies of Aleuts left dead on the beach. People speak of leaving the island for a new one nearby (called Santa Catalina), but the tribal council decided that they should stay.
The council chooses a new chief, Kimki, to take Chowig's place. Kimki decrees that, since so many of the village's men have been killed, women must do the jobs that were once left only to men. Karana and her sister Ulape are set to gather abalones (a type of shellfish). Ramo is given the job of guarding the abalones from gull and from the wild dogs of the island, which have become even more numerous since the village dogs that lost their masters have joined their ranks.
The women are so good at their duties that soon they have gathered enough food for the winter. The men of Ghala-at, however, are disgruntled because women are doing the work of men. Soon Kimki decides that the labor will again be divided as it was before the Aleuts came.
The villagers are constantly saddened by the memories of their friends and family that were killed by the Aleuts, and their sadness grows as the winter progresses. In the spring, Kimki decides to go east to prepare a place for the people of Ghalas-at in a country there that he once visited as a child. He goes alone, taking enough food with him for many days' journey, but the people wonder if he will ever return.
The tension that has been building ever since the Aleuts arrived on the island explodes in this chapter. Chowig distrusts the Aleuts and will not let them leave without first paying his people in full, and this rashness cost him his life and the lives of many men of Ghalas-at. In the eyes of the people, Chowig dies because he has revealed his secret name to Orlov, someone who cannot be trusted. Karana also espouses this belief, and her mistrust of outsiders grows. The importance of the connection between trust and the use of secret names will only become apparent later in the novel, when Karana finally begins to overcome some of her mistrust of others.
This chapter also shows that tribal traditions strongly govern the lives of the characters. Kimki's decision to renounce the division of labor in the people of Ghalas-at was made out of necessity, and allowing women to do the work once given only to men prove quite useful and effective. However, this change makes the men of the village angry, and eventually Kimki restores the old order. The women are, in reality, as good as or better than the men at the men's jobs (as Karana explains in chapter five), and thus the division of labor is revealed as arbitrary. Even so, the men consider tasks such as hunting to be rightfully theirs, and the strength of such tradition is enough to bring things back to the way they were.