Gift of the Desert Dog

Robert L. Hunton

A twelve year-old Tohono O'odham boy and his grandfather embark on a hazardous journey across borderland desert to the summit of legendary Baboquivari Peak to seek the spirits of their ancestors. Treacherous mountain passes, ruthless drug smugglers, and the mystery of ancient petroglyphs prove the ultimate test of their dedication to one another on a quest to where I'itoi, the first O'odham, walked Mother Earth.

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Praise for Gift of the Desert Dog

"I am forever in search of stories 'my kids would enjoy reading.' Never have I read such a gripping book. 'Gift of the Desert Dog' left me breathless . . . nodding in awe."

—Penny Porter, author of Adobe Secrets, The Keymaker

"... action we associate with thriller writers like Michael Crichton . . . a flavor of story-telling, narration, and a touch of the archaic that one might find in a native story. Hunton's work is animated and compelling."
—Philip Baruth, award-winning commentator, University of Vermont professor, author of The Dream of the White Village


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Robert L. Hunton is the author of novels of mystery and adventure for young readers, including The Borderlands Trilogy—Gift of the Desert Dog (2010), Secrets of the Medicine Pouch: Adventure in the Borderlands (2012), and Coyote-meeter's Abyss: Adventure in the Borderlands (2014).

Hunton's career as a middle school teacher in the Colchester, Vermont School District spanned thirty-two years, during which time he taught 7th and 8th grade language arts/social studies lessons on topics as diverse as cartoon storyboards, Plains Indian winter counts, and medieval castle construction, in places extending beyond the classroom—under a cantilevered rock on a mountainside, in the sanctuary of old barns and covered bridges, or in the woods surrounding Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain, where he walked with his students in the footsteps of Montcalm, Washington, and Ethan Allen.

He is an active member of the League of Vermont Writers, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and the Society of Southwestern Authors, currently serving as president.

In the winter of 2007, while completing research for Gift of the Desert Dog, Hunton appeared with his manuscript before the Tohono O'odham tribal council in Sells, Arizona. He requested the meeting to ask elders for permission to use O'odham symbols in his book. While he waited nervously before them, they deliberated on his request, conversing in tongue before finally addressing him in English. They would give him the permission he sought! They also thanked him for his respectful consideration of their traditions and customs; a gesture they had rarely experienced from outsiders. The elders were most interested in his use of 'Coyote' in the novel. They related the importance of the creation story among the O'odham, and Coyote's pivotal role. Hunton listened to council suggestions and concerns, returning to the Gift manuscript to craft a scene in which Joseph teaches the creation story to Danny.

Learn more about the Tohono O'odham nation at tonation-nsn