Based on Cooper's famous novel, an American scout with his Mohawk friends helps the British against the French and the Hurons.
In 1757 William Pitt persuades George II to drive the French out of North America. Major Duncan Heyward (Henry Wilcoxon) courts Alice (Binnie Barnes), daughter of Col. Munro (Hugh Buckler). The British are marching to Fort Henry, and Heyward asks the Americans to help. Captain Winthrop (Willard Robinson) gets them to agree as long as they can defend their homes against the Indians. Hawkeye (Randolph Scott) dissents and goes to warn Munro about the Indian scout Magua (Bruce Cabot), but Alice turns him away. Magua takes Heyward, Alice and her sister Cora (Heather Angel) on a short trail and sends a smoke signal. Hawkeye, Uncas (Philip Reed), and Chingachgook (Robert Barrat) shoot the Hurons capturing Heyward, Alice, and Cora, helping them escape. Hawkeye and Uncas get canoes, and Hawkeye hides with Alice.
Fort Henry is besieged by Montcalm's French forces; but they sneak in. Cora says good-bye to Uncas, but Alice asks Hawkeye to stay. The fort is attacked for ten days. Col. Munro sends Uncas with a message for help; but he is shot. Heyward brings him back. Hawkeye and Chingachgook go to the Ottawa camp and see Magua rousing them. Hawkeye asks Col. Munro to release the Americans, but he and Heyward refuse. The Americans sneak out at night. Heyward orders shooting; Hawkeye fights him and is arrested. Alice visits Hawkeye and pleads with her father and Heyward.
General Webb's messengers are attacked by the French. Montcalm offers a parley and shows Col. Munro Webb's letter advising surrender. Munro agrees to return to England. Magua incites the Hurons to attack the British, and Col. Munro is shot. Alice and Cora are captured. Hawkeye breaks out of jail. Montcalm sends soldiers against the Hurons and apologizes to the dying Munro.
Hawkeye lets Heyward join their search for Alice and Cora. At a Huron council Magua asks for Cora, but the sachem says she is not willing and must burn. Cora escapes with Uncas, who is pushed off a cliff by Magua; then Cora jumps to her death. Magua fights Chingachgook and is killed by him. Hawkeye tells Heyward he will trade himself for Alice; but Heyward knocks him out to take his place. Hawkeye comes, and Alice won't talk. After a shooting match the sachem lets Alice and Heyward go while Hawkeye is tied to a tree. Chingachgook guides Alice and Heyward, and they find General Abercrombie, whose troops attack the Hurons. At a court martial Hawkeye is acquitted and enlisted as a scout. Alice tells him she will wait for him.
This version changes the novel's ending but captures the frontier spirit of colonial America torn apart by a European conflict and Huron enmity toward the Iroquois League.