In the fall of 1965 Leonard White Eagle, a full-blood Dakota (woodland Sioux) is living in the north woods of Minnesota and trying his best to live in the manner of the Grandfathers, including their religion. But his very freedom is theatened when he is framed for the murder of a white man whom he once threatened with death. To survive, he turns to the mystical religion of his forebears and a cynical, hard-drinking lawyer, Jack Collins. Struggling with lonliness and a sense of failure, Collins agrees to defend White Eagle despite his misgivings and lack of experience (he's never tried a murder case.) As the case proceeds admidst official corruption and public racism the two men grow spiritually, though in different ways.