Summer is winding down for Emerson, an almost-12-year-old boy raised with computers and video games who's been spending the vacation with his Navajo grandfather at sheep camp. Suddenly Grandpa Charlie is bitten by a rattlesnake, and Emerson, who has only driven around the lonely mesa, must now drive his grandfather to the E.R. in Shiprock. Left on his own when the hospital decides to keep Grandpa overnight, Emerson becomes caught up with a ring of thieves when he discovers a bag of native jewelry and war medals they had stolen--including a gold medallion belonging to a Navajo code talker. Introduction to the morning corn pollen ceremony makes Emerson determined to try harder to walk in beauty. But the gang knows he has something they want, and are determined to find where it is. Escaping the thieves and trying to help the police catch them draws Emerson deeper into the traditional ways of the reservation's people. But as the time draw near for his mother to take him home again, new dangers threaten, leading to a meeting with the old Code Talker, whose courage, intelligence, and honor make him proud to share his Navajo heritage.