According to Navajo myth if a coyote crosses your path you should turn back and not continue your journey or something terrible will happen. In Running From Coyote: A White Family among the Navajo the author spends a childhood dodging coyote. Set in Shiprock, New Mexico, the home of award-winning author Tony Hillerman's protagonist Jim Chee, the author loves life with the Navajo.
In Running From Coyote an eccentric family from Texas moves to the Navajo Indian reservation in 1958. The author's athletic father is addicted to golf, her depressed grandfather addicted to grieving the loss of his wife, and her scatterbrained mother addicted to selling Avon to the white women who live in the schoolteacher's fenced compound.
Her grandfather joins the family in 1959. He hates his new grandsons, two Navajo boys. Michael, whose mother dies in childbirth, joins the family at the age of 14-months. Eight months later, Daniel's mother gives 11-month old Daniel to a white family in the hope that they can save his life.
Upon the authors return to the white man's world on 1962 she and her four sisters are labeled "nigger lovers" and "Jap lovers."