Cast & Crew
On their way to settle in Powder Valley, a band of wagons led by stern wagon master Aaron Baring passes a string of Indian smoke signals. When young Mike McGeehee asks Baring to stop the wagons while one of the women delivers her baby, the despotic Baring refuses, earning the ire of Susan "Lucky" Ruth, a reformed riverboat gambler seeking to start a new life in the West. That night, as the settlers map out their claims on the valley, Jim Henry, a frontier scout sympathetic to the plight of the Indians, warns that the land belongs to the Arapaho and suggests that the settlers meet with Chief Antelope to negotiate a compromise. After Jim and Mike ride out to bring Antelope to meet with the settlers, Morgan Wheeler, one of the homesteaders, urges Baring to be fair with the Indians. Baring, who has staked out the best land in the center of town, is unyielding, however, and when Jim returns with Antelope, he warns that he will shoot any Indian within ten miles of the settlement. After the incensed Indians depart, Baring accuses Jim of being a traitor and orders him lashed to a wheel and whipped. The next morning, Baring becomes jealous of Susan's concern for Jim and the two men fight. After knocking Baring unconscious, Jim commandeers two horses and gallops away with Susan. Plotting revenge, Baring forges on with the wagons. One night, Mike, who has come to respect the Indians, overhears Baring discussing with Perkins, his henchman, how he fixed the drawing to assure that the two of them would be awarded prime land. Baring then outlines his plot to incite the cavalry to war by telling them that the Indians have kidnapped Susan. As Mike rides off to warn Jim, Antelope and several braves visit Jim's camp to inform him that they plan to attack the wagons and admonish him to leave the area. Soon after the Indians depart, Mike gallops into camp and relates Baring's nefarious plot. Led by Jim, Susan and Mike ride to the Arapaho encampment, but only the two men are admitted to a conference with the chiefs. After recounting Baring's scheme, Jim promises to depose the corrupt Baring and bring a new wagon leader to meet with the chiefs and restore peace. Antelope accepts Jim's proposal on the condition that Susan remain behind as a hostage. If Jim fails to return by two hours after the next dawn, Susan will be killed and the Arapaho will go to war. Leaving Susan in Antelope's hands, Jim and Mike reach the wagons just as Baring has gone to report Susan's kidnapping to the cavalry troop trailing the settlers. When Jim and Mike attempt to contact Wheeler, the voice of reason, Perkins captures them and ties them up. Upon finding Mike's hat beside his wagon, Wheeler becomes suspicious and discovers Mike and Jim bound and gagged. While Mike stays behind, Wheeler rides with Jim to the Arapaho camp. At daybreak, as the Indians rally for war, the cavalry rides to free Susan. Just as the troops, accompanied by Baring, reach the mouth of the Arapaho camp, Jim and Wheeler appear. When Jim charges Baring with treason, the two men fight and Jim knocks Baring unconscious. Slinging Baring's body over his shoulder, Jim delivers him to Antelope, who examines him and declares him dead. Susan, dressed in Indian garb, runs to embrace Jim and praises Antelope's kind treatment. With Wheeler's appointment as the new wagon master, Jim's bargain is fulfilled and peace is restored.
Iron Eyes Cody
Thomas W. Blackburn
The film opens with the following voice-over narration: "The end of the war between the States left the American nation undivided and rich in public land. The great territory of the West lay open to those who would claim it. And they came, from every walk of life...white collar and homespun, law abiding and the lawless, rolling the wheels of their wagons into an unknown wilderness toward the far off homeland of the Plains Tribes-the wild Dakotas, the warlike Sioux and the proud Arapaho." Although the character played by Coleen Gray is addressed as "Susan 'Lucky' Ruth" in the film's dialogue, she is listed as "Susan 'Lucky' Dunneen" in the film's production records.