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I am looking for a novel I read in the 80s.

It takes place on an Apache (I think) reservation in the future. The main character is not Apache, but tries to learn a little. His Apache partner teaches him a phrase which is revealed at the end of the book to mean "I'm an idiot" or something like that. I think the phrase was "Doo ashaya day."

They ended up fighting some creatures made of energy which they killed with tasers.

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This was from 1990. But some points of the novel Cyber Way by Alan Dean Foster seem to match your description.

It is a near future science fiction murder mystery in which the tech savvy protagonist ends up partnering with a Navajo to unravel how a traditional sand painting figures into the murder of wealthy art collector. He ends up discovering an alien presence (the energy being you mention).

The Apache phrase:

"Well, you won't meet many Hopis, so don't worry about that. They have their own commercial center over at Seba Delkai. The Zunis stick mostly to New Mexico. But if you have trouble with any Navaho, just smile and say 'doo ahashyaa da.'"
"Do a hashee dun," Moody essayed. Ooljee repeated the phrase slowly and carefully until he was sure Moody had it reasonably correct.

And, from the Author's Notes:

The Navaho phrase "doo ahashyaa da" means "I am stupid."

Some additional comments at: Amazon link

Good luck.

  • I hope you don't mind that I edited out your note of not knowing if the phrase was present and replaced it with quotes. – FuzzyBoots Aug 29 '17 at 2:21
  • No problem at all FuzzyBoots. Thanks for adding the additional information on this. Great find. It has been almost 30 years since I read the book so the phrase didn't seem to stick with me as well as it did Scotsman. Too, it seems to probably clinch this as the book Scotsman is seeking. – beichst Aug 29 '17 at 2:24
  • That's it. Thank you! I didn't graduate high school until 92, so I sometimes confuse the early 90s with the 80s. – Scotsman Aug 29 '17 at 17:17

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