Strangers Come to the Island
The main character, Karana, remembers a day when she and her little brother, Ramo, were digging up roots for the village to eat when they saw a ship in the distance. The ship is approaching their little island. The island men gathered on the shore, some of them hidden, to greet the strangers. The leader of the strangers, who were called Aleuts, asked if his people could camp on the island and hunt sea otter. The ship’s leader and the island chief struck a deal.
The people on the ship moved onto the island. They were given permission to camp on high ground because the cove would flood when the tide came in and island winds are often strong. The island is shaped like a dolphin on its side. Real dolphins lived in the area and thus the name of the land became Island of the Blue Dolphins. The island chief, Karana’s father, warns the islanders to stay away from the Aleuts and do not try to become friends. By a stroke of luck Ulape, older sister of Karana, found a school of fish trapped on a ledge of land. The village people rejoiced because they were able to feast on the fish for two nights. They would not share the fish with the Aleuts.
Karana was angry that the Aleuts continued to slaughter the playful sea otters. The Aleuts killed them for their pelts. The villagers worried that the Aleuts would try to sneak away in the night and not live up to the original bargain of sharing with the islanders. They carefully watched the Aleuts while they made preparations to leave.
The Aleuts were packing the ship without fulfilling their promises to the islanders. A battle began between the Aleuts and the island men. Karana’s father, the chief, was killed along with many other brave island men. The ship left as a storm began to form.
The tribe originally had 42 men and after the battle only 15 remained alive. A new chief was elected. Women now had to do the jobs that men had once performed. Tension and sadness filled the village. Karana and her sister had the job of gathering abalone, a sea mollusk, and placing them in the sun to dry. Ramo’s job was to keep the wild dogs from eating the abalone. In the spring, the new chief Kimki decided to take a canoe and try to find another country in the east. He hoped to prepare it for the islanders to relocate. Would he ever return?