Multiple old and unique artifacts are stolen from a local museum. Policemen Davis and Wood are called to investigate, because the museum is situated in Stronghill, and the missing artifacts are part of the heritage of Wood’s tribe.The artifacts are of special importance to the tribe, because of their use in ancient rituals. Wood feels that the crime is something committed against the very soul of his people. For the first time, Detective Davis visits the tribe’s sacred grounds, and meets with Wood’s family.Sergeant Charlie Wood (Muraco – White Moon) is part of the Haida tribe, which is one of the Alaskan Athabascan Indian Group tribes. His grandmother (Wenona – First born daughter) is one of the leaders of their clan. The missing artifacts, an ancient totem pole, a canoe, and a number of smaller items (Chilkat weaving and ornate jewelry), are part of the clan’s history, and they are ready to do anything to bring them back. The investigation takes them deep into the Alaskan forests and high up in the mountains. Davis meets with some of Wood’s childhood friends, among them a beautiful woman, Chenoa (Dove), who wants to bring back the old ways of life.Chenoa had just lost her father, who had been buried in the lineage grave house, waiting to be placed in a mortuary pole. Davis and Wood are present when the pole is erected and the potlatch is held to honor the deceased and to recognize his successor. The belief in reincarnation is behind the ceremony, and Davis starts to suspect that it is also the reason behind the stealing. According to the Haida beliefs, the soul of the deceased is transported by a canoe to the Land of the Souls, where it awaits reincarnation.As it turned out, Chenoa stole the artifacts to use them for her father’s burial ceremony. She is determined to take back everything that ever belonged to her tribe and people, and is even ready to commit a crime in order to do so. Davis and Wood easily find out who stands behind the robbery, and give them a chance to do the right thing. Chenoa and her friends return the artifacts back, and the detective keeps his word and doesn’t arrest them.
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SC King is a mystery author.