Chapter 6: Thieves of Children

In a Cherokee law office, the secretary Jinny has Oprah Winfrey on as background entertainment. Law intern Annawake Fourkiller becomes interested when she sees a small Indian child on the show. Annawake guesses she is a Cherokee.

The child that Annawake and Jinny are watching is of course Turtle. On Oprah, Taylor ends up telling how she came to adopt Turtle. She was given Turtle in a parking lot. At the time Turtle was an underdeveloped, abused three- year-old. Turtle's mother was supposedly dead, and Taylor felt like she had to take her. The next summer, she went back to the Cherokee Nation to adopt Turtle officially.

During the time they have been watching the show, Annawake reveals that it is illegal to adopt Cherokee kids without tribal permission. We also learn a little bit about Annawake's background: she is a bright, beautiful Cherokee woman who went to law school in Phoenix before returning to the Nation to do legal work.

After work, Annawake returns to her humble living quarters at her sister-in- law 's house. Her home is chaotic, although Annawake's brother Dell is divorced from Millie, they keep having children together. Dell still hangs around, and Mille's fourth child is about to be born. We learn that Annawake's twin brother Gabriel, who was separated from the Nation and their family many years ago. Both Annawake and Dellon seem to blame themselves for his separation.

In the last section of Chapter Six, Annawake digs up an old box of her personal treasures; she finds a locket with a picture of her late parents and a photograph of Gabe with herself. She also finds the same advertisement of Sugar Hornbuckle that Alice remembers. Sugar was a friend of Annawake's mother. Annawake's commitment to her community and love for her lost brother suggest that her work always has personal motivations.

Chapter 7: A World of Free Breakfast

Franklin Turnbo, Cherokee lawyer and Annawake's boss, thinks of himself as a "born-again" Cherokee. He is half white, half-Cherokee, and never thought about his background until he began studying Native American law.

Annawake enters the office and makes an argument for why she should invest time in tracking down Turtle—the girl she saw on Oprah. She says the Indian Child Welfare Act is supposed to protect the interests of the tribal community, regardless of what individuals in the tribe choose. Annawake has also found evidence that the two people from whom Turtle was supposedly adopted do not exist in the Cherokee enrollment. She is angry that the Oprah show's content made it seem that Cherokee kids can just "be picked up as souvenirs."

Franklin Turnbo, an older, experienced lawyer, knows that Annawake, who is not a mother, cannot understand the bond between the child and her adopted mother. Still, Franklin and Annawake share a common bond—the Cherokee Nation. Franklin imagines fields with meadowlarks, and Annawake remembers a lake filled with perch—"a world of free breakfast." Franklin ultimately agrees that it is important to know what it is like to be part of this community, and he gives Annawake permission to track down Turtle.

Chapter 8: A More Perfect Union

Taylor is home at Rancho Copo, the little colony of stone houses on the edge of town in Tucson where she and Jax share a house. She laments to Lou Ann, her best friend, that the birds are eating her apricots off the tree. Their neighbor Mr. Gundelberger, the father of Gundi the landlord for Rancho Copo, suggests trying a radio to scare the birds, and Taylor finds that Jax's demo tape seems to do the trick.

When Annawake pulls up in the driveway, Taylor assumes she is a reporter covering the Lucky Buster story. They converse for awhile, Taylor asking about the name "Fourkiller" and Annawake suggesting that planting a mulberry tree next to the fruit trees distracts the birds.

Eventually, Annawake reveals her true identity and her motivation for coming. Taylor responds with great hostility. Annawake suggests that Turtle needs to learn about her Indian heritage; she also starts making assumptions about Turtle, guessing that she does not like to drink milk, for instance. After Taylor asks Annawake to leave, Jax's voice in the tree goes silent and the birds come back.


These three chapters introduce the Cherokee Nation to the novel, which implies both a new setting and a whole new cast of characters. Chapter Six provides an insightful introduction to Annawake's public self and private self. These two representations take place at the law office and at Millie's house, respectively. The first impression the reader has of Annawake is constructed by her actions in the workplace. She is quick-witted, a hard worker, and totally competent.

Her character is initially presented to the reader through Jinny's consciousness, that is, through the thoughts of one who knows Annawake only in terms of her persona at work, and her role in the community. Jinny sees Annawake as an invincible character, one who no one would ever gossip about because she is so beautiful and such a "super brain." The reader should note the resentment inherent in Jinny's thought-process. Jinny sees Annawake as too superior to be able to appreciate Oprah and too perfect to know what it feels like to be criticized. It is fitting that Annawake should win the bet over whether Turtle is Navajo or Cherokee. In this context, Annawake is the expert and Jinny merely the ordinary secretary.

Annawake gains more sympathy from the reader by the second half of the chapter. At home, she lets down her guard a little bit. She enjoys her niece and appreciates having more personal conversation with Millie. Annawake recognizes that other people see her as a perfect untouchable, a fact that makes her feel lonelier. Most importantly, the reader learns of her pain associated with losing her brother. She becomes a more human character for us and someone who has endured suffering like everyone else.

The character of Franklin Turnbo serves an important role in the novel. A self- described born-again Cherokee, Turnbo feels like an "ungenuine article," one not so certain about his Indian identity as Annawake seems to be about hers. His age and experience mean that he sees the Turtle case in a more complex way than Annawake. He knows that the line between right and wrong is not so clear as Annawake imagines it. In spite of his "ungenuine" conception of himself, he still identifies with what it means to live on Cherokee land, and in their community. When all is said and done, he agrees with Annawake that this world is one Turtle could not experience anywhere else.

The symbolic significance of Annawake Fourkiller's name is revealed while Annawake is talking to Taylor. This revelation suggests hostility even before Taylor knows the identity of Annawake. The name was a misunderstanding between Annawake's great-great-grandfather and the white men. The four notches on his rifle represented his four children, but white guys assumed that he had killed four men. Annawake's tone suggests that she takes some kind of pleasure in the thought that her grandfather never explained the truth. Taylor notes that something "dangerous" passes between them when the story is related, as if Annawake's tone is threatening. In any case, Annawake does not seem to mind that her name precedes her—that is, that some one may perceive her as a somewhat aggressive, powerful personality.

The birds in the apricot tree in Chapter Eight further develop the theme of "free breakfast" in Chapter Seven. We recall that Annawake likens the Cherokee Nation to "a world of free breakfast," as she talks of her uncle's lake teeming with perch. In Chapter Eight, Taylor is frustrated that their apricots—the one food Turtle loves—are being eaten by the birds. The abundance of food in the Cherokee Nation is thus juxtaposed with underutilized fruit tree in Taylor's yard. Symbolically, Taylor's house is a place where there is no "free" food. The reader should think about how the idea of food is being used in these chapters. The abundance of food is a sign of physical wellness. Metaphorically, food symbolizes the presence of spiritual wellness. The Nation filled with "free breakfast" has provided a sense of community and a strong spiritual presence for Annawake. In her view, Taylor's world lacks the kind of spiritual growth that Turtle will need. The fact that Taylor cannot fix the bird problem implies that she cannot provide Turtle with everything the Cherokee child needs.