Omakayas and her family live on the land her people call the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker.
Although the "chimookoman," white people, encroach more and more on their land, life continues much as it always has: every summer they build a new birchbark house; every fall they go to ricing camp to harvest and feast; they move to the cedar log house before the first snows arrive, and celebrate the end of the long, cold winters at maple-sugaring camp. In between, Omakayas fights with her annoying little brother, Pinch; plays with the adorable baby, Neewo; and tries to be a grown-up like her big sister, Angeline. But the satisfying rhythms of their life are shattered when a visitor comes to their lodge one winter night, bringing with him an invisible enemy that will change things forever -- but that will eventually lead Omakayas to discover her calling.
By turns moving and humorous, this novel is a breathtaking tour de force by a gifted writer.