There There

by Tommy Orange

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Part IV, Orvil Red Feather–Edwin Black

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Orvil Red Feather

Orvil and his brothers enter the coliseum and purchase Indian tacos with their fountain money. Orvil doesn’t want to talk about the prize money with the boys, saying it’s bad luck. The younger brothers dream of how they want to spend the winnings, such as purchasing a PS4 and some joints, but Orvil suggests giving it all to their grandmother. He heads to the locker room to prepare for the Grand Entry, but before taking the stage, a huge Indian man tells the group not to waste their tears—they need the emotion for the dancing. Hundreds of dancers are preparing to take the stage with Orvil, and he reminds himself not to think about the dance while performing. He finishes the Grand Entry dance and then goes to look for his brothers.

Tony Loneman

In full regalia, Tony takes the train to the coliseum. An older white woman stares at him and then asks if he is Native American. Tony invites her to the powwow, and she begins to decline, but Tony doesn’t really care. He knows that she’s just looking for an interesting story to tell her friends about how Native Americans still exist.


Blue has been back in Oakland for a year and is on her way to pick up Edwin for the powwow. Edwin is her intern, and she has tried to make it quite clear that she is not romantically interested in him. Although they share some commonalities, such as not really knowing their biological fathers, Edwin is painfully aware of his weight and makes other people feel awkward about it. She has spent some time trying to find Jacquie Red Feather, but no one seems to have heard of any family with that name. After knocking several times, Edwin finally appears at the door with a mug of coffee for Blue.

Dene Oxendene

Dene has set up a storytelling booth at the powwow. He is using his uncle’s camera and plans to ask everyone who comes into his booth the same questions. What does being Indian mean to them? What do powwows mean to them? Where do they live? Dene still wants the content to determine the project’s vision.

Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield

Opal arrives at the coliseum but tries to avoid being seen by her grandsons. She doesn’t want to distract from Orvil’s performance. She considers how long it has been since she brought the boys to a baseball game here and notes something “unnatural” flying over the edge of the coliseum.

Edwin Black

En route to the powwow, Edwin thinks about how badly he wants things to go well, because this is a new life for him. He tells Blue about an idea he has for a story: A man named Phil owns an apartment that was given to him by his grandfather to take care of. Phil’s coworker John ends up staying at his apartment one night and then invites other people to come stay there, too. Phil ends up getting sick, and he’s positive that a blanket John gave him caused his illness. When Phil gets better, he finds that his apartment has been transformed into office spaces, and John tells him that Phil will now have to stay in a closet under the stairs. Blue tells him that the story is “funny.”

At the coliseum, Blue and Edwin grab a safe full of Visa gift cards that they will hand out as prizes. Although this seems “flashy,” Edwin notes that powwows are “all about flash.”

Calvin Johnson

Sitting with Octavio, Charles, and Carlos at the...

(This entire section contains 953 words.)

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Denny’s next to the coliseum, Calvin is more worried about getting away with their planned robbery than actually getting the money. They have the descriptions of the “big dude” and “forty-something-year-old woman with long black hair” who will have the stash of gift cards. Tensions in the group are running high.

Daniel Gonzales

Daniel asks Octavio for permission to fly his drone over the coliseum. Octavio is at first firmly against the idea because of the possibility that it will fall and someone will trace the drone back to them. However, he reluctantly agrees after Daniel reminds him that Octavio has done real damage to their family. They shake on a deal allowing Daniel to fly his drone.

Jacquie Red Feather

Jacquie arrives in Oakland with Harvey and spends the night at his house. She refuses to sleep in his bedroom in an additional queen bed, so he texts her the next morning about going to get some breakfast. At the powwow, she sits beside him and asks about his emcee job. He hands Jacquie a list of dancers, and she spots Orvil on the list; she immediately texts her sister. 

Octavio Gomez

Octavio makes it through security with his plastic gun. He collects the socks full of bullets from the bushes and heads to the bathroom. After loading his gun, he passes the bullets down the line of stalls to Charles, Carlos, and Calvin, who all load their guns as well. A bullet drops to the floor and rolls out of the stall as someone else enters the bathroom.

Edwin Black

Edwin has walked by his father at the emcee booth several times but hasn’t spoken to him, so Jacquie encourages him to go do so. Blue says that she will walk with him, and the pair approach Harvey, who puts down his microphone for a while. After brief introductions are made, Blue is desperate to get away quickly. Once she and Edwin are a safe distance away, she tells him that she thinks the woman with Edwin’s father is her own biological mother. Blue is suddenly ghost-white.


Part III, Blue–Thomas Frank


Part IV, Thomas Frank–Tony Loneman