In 1868, following the signing of the Medicine Lodge Treaty, things are not going well for the Kiowa. Their promised lands went to another tribe, their promised goods have not arrived, and the bored and tense warriors are becoming more and more unruly. When the Indian agent once again fails to live up to his promises, he is run off by the Kiowa and the agent's assistant sends them off to Ft. Larned to receive their annuities.
All the while, Tay-bodal - a healer and member of the Rattle Band - is enduring a personal crisis. A fight with his wife has escalated to the point where he has moved out, his wife is seen with a very eligible bachelor, and divorce seems inevitable. Tay-bodal is therefore not in the best frame of mind he is called upon to investigate a murder amongst the bands. Three Elks, a fond acquaintance of Tay-bodal and son of another chief, has been murdered. The one accused of killing him is a member of the Rattle Band. To make matters worse, the is the same man who has been plotting to steal Tay-bodal's wife. Now, if Tay-bodal cannot put aside his own dislike and prove that the accused innocent - and quickly - then there will be war between the bands, tearing apart what remains of the Kiowa nation.