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In the Black Hills of the Dakotas, Sitting Bull, leader of a large Sioux Indian tribe, watches with anger as one wagon train after another brings in white prospectors looking for gold. The prospectors are cutting through Indian territory, despite attempts by the U.S. Cavalry to divert them to the east or south. After breaking up a skirmish between the Sioux and some prospectors, Major Bob Parrish returns to his fort, where he and Colonel George Armstrong Custer argue over the role of the Cavalry in the territory. Parrish's insistence on keeping the peace with the Indians by going after the trouble-making prospectors results in his reassignment by General Howell to the Red Rock Indian Agency. Howell's daughter and Parrish's fiancée Kathy, who wants a husband with a future in the Army, decides to break off the engagement when she learns of the reassignment. When Parrish arrives at Red Rock, he is appalled at the living conditions that have been forced on the Indians, and complains to Webber, the cruel civilian agency head. Though sent to the agency to police the camp, Parrish refuses to order his men to shoot the Indians when they break out of the stockade. Webber, frustrated by the Cavalry's inaction, shoots and kills the Indian Young Buffalo. Later, cavalrymen arrive with orders to arrest Parrish, who is being sent to Washington to be court-martialed for sympathizing with the Indians and allowing the prisoners at Red Rock to escape. In Washington, Parrish meets with President Ulysses S. Grant, who demotes him to captain but assigns him to arrange a meeting with Sitting Bull. Parrish returns to the Black Hills, only to discover that Kathy is now engaged to Charles Wentworth, a war correspondent. With the help of Sam, a black runaway slave, Parrish is taken to Sitting Bull. The chief agrees to a temporary truce and a meeting with Grant, but he refuses to go to Washington, so Parrish asks the President to come to the Dakotas. Grant consents to the meeting, but before the peace treaty meeting can convene, Custer, ignoring Parrish's pleas to keep his distance, spoils the truce by provoking an Indian attack. The ensuing battle results in the death of Custer and the massacre of his regiment at Little Big Horn. Following the massacre, Parrish, determined to prevent further bloodshed, warns Sitting Bull that an Army unit is approaching, and guides the Sioux to a safe place. For his role in the evacuation, Parrish is later convicted of treason and ordered to die by firing squad. Kathy, who still loves Parrish and who has broken off her engagement to Wentworth, meets with Grant and tries unsuccessfully to prevent Parrish's execution. With only a short time to spare before Parrish's set execution, Kathy, realizing that the only testimony that can save her sweetheart is that of Sitting Bull, finds the chief and brings him to the execution site. After convincing Grant of Parrish's patriotism and preventing the captain's execution, Sitting Bull returns to his people, hopeful that now peace will prevail.