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In 1775, Daniel Boone leads his family and a small group of settlers into the Kentucky wilderness to establish a fort and trading post for the Transylvania Company. His son James and several other scouts follow the main party, but when the smaller party camps for the night, they are attacked by a group of Shawnee Indians, and young James is killed and scalped. A British general named Hamilton has been offering the Shawnees rifles in exchange for the scalps of American rebels. Most of these deals are brokered by Simon Girty, a Cherokee who speaks with a French accent and wears a British uniform. When Boone finds his son's body and carries it back to the small fort, Andy Callaway, another settler, argues that they should return to civilization. Boone, however, believes that their settlement of Boonesboro will be the gateway to the West and insists on remaining. Andy's son Faron, who is loved by Boone's daughter Susannah, shares Boone's enthusiasm. Soon afterward, Blackfish, chief of the Shawnee Indians, visits the fort in the company of Girty to warn Boone against settling the area. Boone and Blackfish are blood brothers, but when Boone calls Girty a "serpent," the chief sternly replies, "He's Shawnee now." Worried about the safety of his brother Squire, who is bringing a group of children to the fort, Boone and several other settlers head out to meet the wagons. The children, several of them Boones, sing about "Dan'l Boone," but just before the famed pioneer arrives, the wagons are captured by Shawnees. That night, Boone uses cunning to free the wagon from the Indians, but two of the men are taken prisoner by the Shawnee. Boone later walks into the Shawnee village, but before Blackfish talks peace with him, he is forced to endure the blows of many of the warriors' tomahawks. At a council meeting, Boone argues that the settlers want only to live in peace and share the wealth of the land with the Indians. Blackfish agrees to send his two sons to meet at a waterfall to discuss peace, but when the young warriors arrive, Girty secretly has them shot. Holding the body of one of his sons aloft, Blackfish later cries, "The earth will run red with the blood of white men!" and Boone barely escapes with his life. Later, Boone finds White Fox, Blackfish's other son, by the waterfall, mumbling "Girty!" Boone carries the feverish White Fox back to the fort, where he fervently hopes the Indian will regain his health. At night, several warriors quietly enter the fort, and although Boone orders the settlers to hold their fire, Callaway shoots, shouting, "Well, they're savages, aren't they?" One of the white prisoners escapes from the Shawnee village, but as he approaches the fort, the full contingent of attacking Indians begins shooting. The settlers fight hard but are soon overwhelmed, and things look hopeless when White Fox dies. Callaway is killed while approaching Blackfish and Girty with a white flag, and afterward, Blackfish enters the fort. He is shocked to see Boone supporting the upright body of White Fox, who, although dead, stares ahead with open eyes. Boone quietly asks Blackfish to act as though he is speaking with his son, and when Boone points the dead man's hand toward Girty, the villain assumes that his treachery has been revealed. As Girty turns to run away, Blackfish flings an axe at him. The bereaved chief then carries his son's body away from the fort, leaving it open to future westward travelers.