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Kimki becomes chief of the village of Ghalas-at after the Aleuts kill Chief Chowig . He is a part of the village's patriarchal order (that means he is one of the male rulers of the village). He's one of the village's elders at the time he is made chief since almost no young men left after the fight with the Aleuts. Kinki's age suggests that maybe this way of ruling is not useful anymore and out of date. The ruling men could not stay in their positions because they were always fighting with invaders.
Because of what happened with the Aleuts, Kimki decides to journey to the mainland to find a new home for the island people. Here, he represents the novel's spirit of exploration, since he ventures off into the unknown with a canoe full of supplies. Kimki's mission is successful since he's able to send back the ship full of white men to carry the islanders to the mainland. Unfortunately, the ship full of villagers, sinks on its journey to the mainland.