Summary: Thomas Frank

Bobby Big Medicine asks how Thomas is doing. Thomas tells him that he feels good and that he is doing better with his drinking. He thanks Bobby for inviting him. Singing and drumming has made Thomas finally feel complete, like he is where he should be. He thinks that if he apologizes to Blue for the bat incident, he will feel better and improve his drumming. He hears yelling, but he does not know where it is coming from.

Summary: Loother and Lony

Loother and Lony leave the stands to walk down and look for Orvil. Loother wants to get a lemonade, but Lony is entranced by the drum and wants to get closer to it. They have to avoid the dancers as they reach the field. They are almost to the lemonade stand when they hear people screaming.

Summary: Daniel Gonzales

Wearing his virtual reality goggles, Daniel directs his drone toward the powwow. He wants the planned robbery to succeed but does not want anyone to resort to violence and use the 3-D printed guns. Daniel has had a recurring nightmare leading up to the Big Oakland Powwow in which Native Americans run with gunfire all around. The dream always ends with bullet-ridden bodies all over the ground.

Daniel’s mother comes downstairs while he is flying the drone. He lands the drone in the upper deck and talks to his mother. She asks if he will come up and eat with her; she rarely ever comes downstairs to talk to him. The sadness in his mother’s voice almost convinces him to ditch the drone, but Daniel tells her that he will be up soon.

Summary: Blue

Blue sits with Edwin and becomes suddenly conscious of the safe and the gift cards inside. She sees several “thuggish-looking guys” slowly getting closer and wonders who would rob a powwow. She double-checks that the safe is still covered by a blanket, and Edwin smiles at her, unaware of her suspicions.

Summary: Dene Oxendene

Dene is in the storytelling booth when he hears the first shots. A bullet strikes one of the poles, and the tent collapses around him. Dene realizes that he was saved by this booth he built. Crawling out, he sees Calvin Johnson shooting at someone on the ground. Two other guys with Calvin, one of them wearing regalia, are also shooting. Dene drops onto his stomach to avoid getting shot.

Summary: Orvil Red Feather

Orvil hears gunshots and immediately thinks of his brothers and their safety. He hears a loud boom and falls to the ground. He feels something warm and wet like blood on his stomach. Orvil can’t move, but he wants to stand up and escape. He wants to keep breathing.

Summary: Calvin Johnson

Calvin stands near Blue and Edwin, waiting for Tony to rob them. Tony approaches but then walks the opposite direction. Octavio walks to the table and points his gun at Blue and Edwin. He gets the bag of gift cards from the safe, but when he turns around, Charles and Carlos have their guns pointed at him. Octavio throws the bag at them and then fires at Charles. Calvin watches Charles and Carlos shoot Octavio. A kid in regalia (Orvil) falls down behind Charles, caught by stray bullets. Carlos shoots several times into Octavio’s back before Daniel’s drone crashes into him. Calvin does not know whom to aim his gun at, but bullets strike his hip and stomach. Tony is shooting Carlos. Calvin watches from the ground as Charles fires back at Tony, and then Calvin doesn’t hear anything.


The violence at the powwow begins across these short, staccato, chapters. Even more insistently than before, the point of view changes so that it can be hard to understand what precisely is happening. These formal choices reflect the novel’s commitment to conveying what it is like to inhabit the experience of each of these characters. The realization of danger comes to them in different ways and at different times but, as the discussion of bullets throughout the novel makes clear, their path is indifferent to people and their needs.

By starting with Thomas, who feels proud of his drumming and pleased to be participating in the powwow, Orange hammers home the cruelty of indiscriminate violence, as does the inclusion of a short chapter focused on Orvil’s younger brothers, Loother and Lony. Here, as in the earlier chapters, sound is an important element of the narrative. The progression from Thomas perceiving distant yelling to the insistent screaming that the boys hear, moves the violence closer to the novel’s characters. Indeed, the book exposes the distinct experiences of all three of the characters who are shot. When Orvil is shot, he both hears and feels the sound, which pulls him to the ground. Calvin’s death is likewise represented in terms of sound, marked by the end of his hearing. Other characters who don’t hear are more fortunate, however. Flying above the Coliseum via his drone, Daniel hears nothing, nor does Blue, who is lost in thought. The use of sound, however, introduces some cohesion into these otherwise necessarily disjointed chapters.

One minor detail in these chapters warrants attention given that the violence at the powwow is associated with a robbery. The safe with the prize money is snuggly wrapped in a colorful Pendleton blanket, an object with a long history. The Oregon company that still makes these blankets was established by descendants of a British settler in the 1890s and became well-known for creating woolen goods based on indigenous designs. The blankets are both indigenous and European and were initially produced for the Nez Perce tribes but the company’s reach, as well as their appropriation of indigenous design, expanded outward over time. Wrapped around the money for the powwow, the blanket hints at the way Native practices can be made problematically profitable and thus liable to theft and appropriation for monetization.