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When gunshots ring out in a tragic roadside shooting, police officer Delbert Nez winds up dead. His close friend Officer Jim Chee (Adam Beach) is the first on the scene, and upon spotting an elderly, drunken Navajo Shaman named Ashie Pinto (Jimmy Herman) with the murder weapon tucked in his belt, he takes the man into custody as the prime suspect. Though Pinto does not confess to the crime, the case against him is strong, and Detective Joe Leaphorn (Wes Studi) begins to look into the case at the behest of his wife, Emma (Sheila Tousey) -- who remains staunchly convinced that her relative was set up. As Chee and Leaphorn investigate the case, they are troubled to discover a number of inconsistencies in the murder. How did Pinto get to the scene of the crime when he has no means of transportation? And how could the elderly Pinto be the man that Officer Nez said he apprehended as a vandal in his final communication to police headquarters? When their investigation leads Chee and Leaphorn to a local trading post run by a shady man named John McGinnis (Keith Carradine), the case soon begins to come into focus as the body count rises and the spirit of the coyote lurks in the shadows awaiting its next victim.