Island of the Blue Dolphins is about a woman who lives alone on the Island of the Blue Dolphins for eighteen years. The story begins with a twelve-year-old girl named Karana who is part of a tribe in a village called Ghalas-at.
Karana is the girl's secret name, which is only to be used by family members and those close to her. Her public name is Won-a-pa-lei, which means the girl with the long black hair. Her family consists of her six-year-old brother Ramo, her older sister Ulape and her father, the chief of Ghalas-at, Chief Chowig. The tribe members, who have been treated unfairly by the Russians in the past, are the only inhabitants of this little island.