Authors: David,Aimee Thurlo
By Aimée and David Thurlo
Plant Them Deep
AN ELLA CLAH NOVEL
AIMÉE & DAVID THURLO
TABLE OF CONTENTS
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this novel are
either fictitious or are used fictitiously.
Copyright © 2004 by Aimée and David Thurlo
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
A Forge Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Wind spirit / Aimée & David Thurlo.—1st. ed.
“A Tom Doherty Associates book.”
ISBN 0-765-30477-5 (acid-free paper)
1. Clah, Ella (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Near-death experiences—Fiction. 3. Police—New Mexico—Fiction. 4. Navajo Indians—Fiction. 5. Navajo women—Fiction. 6. Policewomen—Fiction. 7. New Mexico—Fiction. 8. Arson—Fiction. I. Thurlo, David. II. Title.
First Edition: April 2004
Printed in the United States of America
0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
To M. S.,
who’s always there to point us in the right direction.
Ella thanks you and so do we.
With special thanks to those Cold War heroes who risked their
lives within the uranium mines on the Navajo Nation.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation
has changed the number of U.S. 666, what was known as
the Devil’s Highway, to U.S. 491.
It was a cloudless spring morning, and even though a cool breeze was still flowing down from the nearby mountains, a crowd of nearly three hundred had assembled in the remote canyon south of Shiprock. This was a historic milestone for the
, the Navajo People. Today, some of the uranium mines that lay like open wounds in the side of Mother Earth would finally be filled in.
Ella Clah, special investigator for the Navajo Tribal Police, proudly watched her mother, Rose, who was standing among the dignitaries behind the speaker’s microphone. Rose had been integral to this effort, generating support for the work through her activism and leadership on tribal committees, and Ella had come to the ceremony today to support the tribe and honor what her mother had worked so hard to accomplish.
There was a saying among the Navajo that seemed to epitomize everything about Rose—“in-old-age-walking-the-trail-of-beauty.” Today her mother was looking her best in a long blue velvet skirt and deep purple velveteen blouse fastened at her waist with a big silver concha belt. Around her neck, Rose wore the handcrafted silver and turquoise squash blossom that had been in their family for generations. Her
long silver hair was tied neatly into a traditional bun fastened at the base of her neck.
Ella listened as the Christian minister, an Anglo named Campbell, said a brief prayer. Next, her brother Clifford, a respected
, or medicine man, began singing
. These songs of blessing compelled the Navajo gods to bring good luck to the land the yellow dust had corrupted and give it new life.
Navajo prayers were not petitions. If recited just right, it was believed that the gods couldn’t fail to comply. All Navajo knowledge was now being brought to bear on this problem that faced the
. The People had even named the yellow dirt
because using the name of their enemy would rob it of power and bring about its downfall.
Today was a special day for traditionalists and modernists alike. Everyone willing and hardy enough to make the long cross-country trip over the poorest of dirt roads was here to witness the historic occasion. The local television stations had sent crews to film the event, and some of the morning classes at the community college had been postponed so that the teaching staff could attend. She saw several of the Ship-rock college professors, including Wilson Joe and Preston Garnenez—who taught organic chemistry in the classroom that adjoined Wilson’s. Both men were standing at the end of the row, beside the preacher.
This place was personal to Ella for completely different reasons. Near this spot she’d cornered and captured a cop killer just last year. And she recalled, with a chill running down her spine, she’d also discovered that skinwalkers—Navajo witches known for their evil practices and rituals associated with the dead—were using these old mines for their own purposes. Fortunately, skinwalkers had apparently stopped using this site after authorities had destroyed a few of the larger shafts.
Clifford had cleansed the area last year, and had done so
again today before the crowd had gathered, but Ella still couldn’t help but wonder where the skinwalkers had relocated to and when she’d cross paths with them again.
Hearing the enthusiastic countdown, she looked over to where the men in hard hats were standing. Then, as the first blast of explosives shook the earth, the crowd cheered.
So it began. As a demolition crew started the long process of sealing up the old, abandoned mines that had brought so much sickness and sorrow, Ella wondered if the new mining methods and safety procedures NEED was sanctioning would live up to expectations.
NEED, which stood for Navajo Electrical Energy Development, represented the Navajo Nation’s first step toward a more prosperous future. Casinos on the large, isolated Navajo Nation would never be able to attract large numbers of patrons like the ones run by other tribes closer to population centers. The Navajo tribe’s one small casino, being test-marketed at To’hajiilee, west of Albuquerque, had been doing well so far, but it hadn’t gone into the black yet. Even if it was a big success, the facility wouldn’t be able to make a substantial impact on the poverty that shadowed the Rez. Lack of funds still took a heavy toll on the tribe’s ability to provide and maintain emergency services. Police equipment was badly outdated and salaries hadn’t been improved in years. Even the hospital was understaffed these days and it was becoming nearly impossible to persuade many of the health professionals to remain there for long.