Toby Ryker, chief scout of the Sixth Minnesota, is a red-headed, half white-half Chippewa man. Living life to the brim, he would rather ride the prairies than plough them. But his Sioux neighbors, despairing a life of near starvation and broken treaties, rise up like a prairie whirlwind in September 1862. They mercilessly ravage the frontier, killing more than 1,000 settlers on Indian lands in the greatest storm of death rivaled only by the Civil War battles decimating the South. Ryker must remain loyal to the Army, aid his Indian kinsmen or just stand aside. When the outgunned Sioux surrender, Ryker is left with still one more bitter duty. Somehow he must find words to comfort the sorrowing wives of the 38 warriors who are condemned to hang.