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Warrior Girl Unearthed: Book Review

Ashleigh and Angeline Boulley pose with the author’s latest novel, Warrior Girl Unearthed.


Warrior Girl Unearthed by acclaimed Ojibwe author Angeline Boulley is a young adult novel set in Anishinaabe land of northern Michigan. This young adult novel introduces us to Perry Firekeeper-Birch, a spirited 16-year-old who embarks on a summer adventure unlike any other. Joining an internship program organized by her Tribe, the Sault St. Marie Ojibwe, Perry finds herself at the heart of a crucial cultural mission at the Tribal Museum.

As Perry delves into her work, she uncovers a startling truth: numerous cultural artifacts and Ancestors of her community are scattered across universities, private collections, and museums far from their rightful home. Embark on a journey with Perry as she faces the monumental task of repatriating her community’s Ancestors and priceless items.

Set in the same universe as Boulley’s debut novel, Firekeeper’s Daughter, Warrior Girl Unearthed takes place 10 years in the future, intertwining familiar faces with new challenges. In her two books, Boulley doesn’t hold back as she explores a myriad of Indigenous issues such as identity politics, culture, family drama, substance use disorders, and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Warrior Girl Unearthed expands this exploration. It introduces the topic of cultural repatriation, offering readers not only a gripping story but an important lesson in contemporary Indigenous struggles.

As an Anishinaabekwe (Anishinaabe woman) and archaeologist, I found Boulley’s portrayal both thrilling and deeply resonant. Her skillful storytelling brings crucial topics from Native Country to a broad audience, making complex issues like the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act comprehensible and engaging. Through Perry’s journey, readers gain an intimate understanding of why returning cultural items and Ancestors is a pivotal act for Indigenous communities.

Boulley, a keynote speaker at the Annual Repatriation Conference, highlights the unique nature of Young Adult fiction in addressing the real challenges of adolescence while providing resources for young readers. This is exemplified in the subplot involving Pauline, Perry’s twin sister, who navigates complex interpersonal dynamics, leading to transformative realizations about grooming and personal boundaries.

“Warrior Girl Unearthed” is more than just a novel; it’s a journey through Ojibwe language and culture, a navigation of family and community tribulations, and a celebration of character growth and resilience. It’s the novel I wish I had as a young kwe (Ojibwe woman), and it’s here to inspire and educate a new generation.

Don’t miss this opportunity to immerse yourself in Angeline Boulley’s compelling world. Grab your copy of Warrior Girl Unearthed today and join Perry Firekeeper-Birch on her unforgettable quest. As you turn each page, you’ll not only witness a thrilling story unfold but also connect with an important part of Indigenous heritage and contemporary struggles. Your journey awaits!

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