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Lance Poole, a Shoshone Indian, returns to his home in Medicine Bow, Wyoming, having won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in the Civil War. Despite his honorable war record, Lance is shunned by the white townspeople, who bear a grudge against him and his father because of their hold on the richest land in the region. Lance becomes embittered against the white men in Medicine Bow after his father dies because a white doctor refused him prompt medical attention after Lance himself is refused service at a local saloon. When Verne Coolan, a prejudiced lawyer, threatens to take Lance's land away under a new homesteading law, Lance hires Orrie Masters, a female attorney who has recently settled in Medicine Bow, to take his case. Complications soon arise when Lance discovers that, as a ward of the government, he is not entitled to file a claim to keep his land. Orrie tries to circumvent the homesteading law by circulating a petition to allow Lance to keep at least a portion of his land, but Coolan thwarts her attempt by spreading word through town that Lance has killed one of his men. Coolan then assembles an army composed of sheepherders to take the land by force, and a bloody battle ensues. Having suffered great losses in the battle, Lance and his Shoshone Indian fighters take refuge in Lance's cabin, and quickly turn it into a makeshift fortress. After calling in U.S. Cavalry troops and negotiating a truce with the sheepherders, Orrie makes an unsuccessful attempt to persuade Lance to give up his losing fight. Lance refuses to heed Orrie's advice, insisting that it would be shameful to give up his land to the sheepherders, and continues the fight. Lance kills Coolan, but when the Cavalry fighters join the sheepherders, Lance's men are overwhelmed and forced to surrender. Lance is shot during one last skirmish and, in the final moments of his life, gives the Cavalry commander a farewell salute.