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During veterinary school, Katie Reynolds, a Navajo woman, develops feelings for Rory Evans, a white student not of her culture. Both individuals undergo individual growth and wade through massive amounts of self doubt and cultural misunderstanding in an effort to remain together.
In the early 1970s Katie develops interest in veterinary medicine when she helps Dr. Colgrave, an extension veterinarian for the Navajo people, find the connection between animals on the reservation and the death of tribal members. She enters school fully intending to return to Dinétah, the Navajo homeland, to serve her people. Her foray into the white world is supported by Ellen, Dr. Colgrave’s wife. As her love for this bilagáana, this white man called Rory, develops, Katie must seek guidance through her Navajo traditions, her mother, Ruth, and ultimately from Rory himself. Rory needs to grow as well. He must shed the cultural naiveté typical of the Clint Eastwood, “few words, big actions”, culture prevalent in the 70s and 80s. Rory’s maturity is accelerated when René, a handsome Basque, whose history and family security offers Katie the confidence she is seeking herself, becomes an attractive alternative suitor.
Being educated away from her people, Katie’s path inexorably draws her away from her tribal goals, the ones she has clung to during the first part of her life. Suddenly, because of unexpected love, rigorous education, and exposure to a different culture, Katie realizes that her carefully constructed world is disintegrating. To maintain both their sanities, Katie must decide whether she will live in Rory’s world or the one she has grown up in.

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