In this book, Karana's father is the chief of the island.
At the beginning of the book, the Aleuts and their Russian captain come to hunt for sea otters on the island. When they get there, they come on shore and talk to Karana's father about what they will pay for the otters and other such "business" matters.
When the Russian captain identifies himself, Karana's father answers by giving his name. He says his name is Chief Chowig.
Karana is shocked because that is her father's secret name and he has told it to a stranger.