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In 1866, Colonel Henry Carrington arrives in Wyoming to defend a new road for gold miners and settlers. Carrington intends to build a fort in the middle of critical hunting grounds, the home of the Lakota. Red Cloud and Crazy Horse understand the implications of this invasion. As fall bleeds into winter, Crazy Horse leads a war party that confronts Carrington's soldiers with attacks. Red Cloud wants to build the tribal alliances he knows will be necessary to defeat the soldiers. Carrington seeks to hold together a U.S. Army beset with internal discord. The soldiers, meanwhile, are tempted to desertion by the nearby goldfields.