Dunbar meets MajorFambrough (Maury Chaykin), who has slipped into alcohol-fueled delusions of grandeur (apparently believing he is a king and Dunbar a medieval knight). Fambrough scribbles out Dunbar's orders to report to Captain Cargill at Fort Sedgwick and pairs him off with an uncouth drayage teamster named Timmons (Robert Pastorelli), who is to convey him to his post. After they depart, Fambrough shoots himself in thehead.
After a journey across the South Dakota plains, Dunbar and Timmons arrive at the desolate Fort Sedgwick. Timmons leaves, and Dunbar is left by himself at the outpost, with a lone wolf that he befriends and dubs Two Socks. The deaths of Fambrough and Timmons, who is ambushed and scalped by Pawnee Indians, prevent the rest of the army from knowing of Dunbar's isolated assignment.
Dunbarinitially encounters Sioux neighbors when the tribe's Holy man, Kicking Bird (Graham Greene) attempts to capture Dunbar's horse, Cisco, but he is scared off by Dunbar's unexpected reappearance. Later some of the tribe's youths, Smiles A Lot and Otter (Nathan Lee Chasing His Horse and Michael Spears), capture and attempt to break Cisco. Later still, some of the tribe's mature warriors, led by anaggressive warrior named Wind in His Hair (Rodney A. Grant), are likewise thwarted. The Sioux decide that Cisco is not worth the effort and leave her alone; the horse returns to Dunbar's fort.
In response to these interactions, Dunbar seeks out the Sioux camp. On his way, he comes across Stands With A Fist (Mary McDonnell), the white, adopted daughter of Kicking Bird. She is a recent widow whohas just slit her wrists. Dunbar returns her to the Indian camp to be treated, which dramatically changes the Sioux's attitude about Dunbar. Eventually, Dunbar establishes a rapport with Kicking Bird, though the language barrier frustrates them; eventually Stands With A Fist acts as a translator. Since her parents were slaughtered by the Pawnee, she has been assimilated to Sioux culture and shefears that Dunbar will try to return her to the whites.
Instead, Dunbar finds himself drawn to the lifestyle and customs of the tribe, and constantly looks forward to their company. He becomes a hero among the Sioux and is accepted as an honored guest after he locates a migrating herd of buffalo. During the ensuing buffalo hunt, he saves Smiles A Lot from a rampaging bull, and at last Wind In HisHair accepts him as a friend.
When he returns to the soldier fort, Dunbar's thoughts dwell on the Indian camp. He makes an impromptu visit, but is dismayed to find Two Socks following him. Irritated, he dismounts and orders the wolf to return home, but Two Socks playfully trips him up. The exchange is observed by Kicking Bird, Stone Calf, and Wind in His Hair, who decide to rename Dunbar as...