This story is about a young girl named Won-a-pa-lei or her real name Karana. She, her older sister Ulape, and her brother Ramo live on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. They live with their father, the chief of Ghalas-at, Chowig.
Every year people called Aleuts come to their island to hunt otter. This year the Aleuts made a deal with Chief Chowig. If the Aleuts could stay on the island to hunt otter they would give the tribe half of their catch. They would be granted one part of the catch, paid in goods, and 2 parts for the Aleuts. Chief Chowig said that the parts had to be equal, and the Aleuts agreed. When the Aleuts were done hunting, they tried to leave the island without paying off their debt. This made the tribe mad, so a battle ensued. The goods finally got paid, however, most of the tribe members were killed, including the Chief.
The next Chief, Kimki, made a decision that the island was no longer safe for its inhabitants. He left to find new land.
The time of year came around for the Aleuts to return and hunt otter. However, the Aleuts did not return. Instead, white men came to take the people away by order of Kimki.
As everyone boarded the ship, Won-a-pa-lei realized her brother was not on board. She returned to the island to get him. When she finally found her brother, they both realized the ship was too far out to sea for them to swim. They both had to remain on the island, alone.
Many days passed but the ship never returned. On a long sunless day, Ramo had gotten up early and went off to try to kill a wild dog for food. Won-a-pa-lei knew that he would be in great danger. She went to look for him. She found him lying on his back, on the ground surrounded by wild dogs. There were gashes in his neck and many more on his body. Won-a-pa-lei realized that her brother was dead. She then vowed to avenge her brother's death.
While she was on the island she made temporary shelter. She made weapons, gathered