A picture -- as seen by Heyets, a 17 year old -- of the Nez Perce Indian chief, Joseph, and his attempts to live with the government's orders without destroying his people. Having argued the case and retained hunting rights for his tribe, Joseph is forced -- with the betrayal of the promises to him- to join those who want to war against the new demands from Washington. But throughout the pursuit and battles, Joseph maintains his conciliatory measures never once firing against the enemy. It is as an old man that Heyets recalls the events that gave Joseph his fame as a strategist, but it is not in this role that he is shown,- rather the portrait underlines his peacefulness, his rational and intelligent approach to the issues which were otherwise handled by the war chiefs, the young bloods and the malcontents of other tribes. In detail and in able re-creation, this is in part a vindication of Indian actions, a criticism of the government's brutal treatment of the men, women and children not among the fighting groups, and a panorama of a last stand by the original inhabitants of this country.