Dances with Wolves
Michael Blake adapted his own novel and Kevin Costner directed this story of a Union officer wounded in the Civil War who volunteers for a frontier post and is left alone to get to know the Sioux in the village nearby.
In a tent during the Civil War two surgeons are doing amputations, and one asks if this is the last one. The other says there is no ether. He notices there is no gangrene yet and says he can wait while he gets some coffee to keep his eyes open. After they go out, Lieutenant John J. Dunbar (Kevin Costner) lifts his head up to look at his leg. He sees a soldier with one leg using a crutch. He struggles to put his boot back on and falls back in pain. He breaks a stick and puts it in his mouth to bite on as he gets his boot on.
In 1863 at St. David’s Field in Tennessee six Union officers on horses look at a field with Tucker’s men who have been there for two days.
Dunbar stands over a fellow soldier while Confederate soldiers shoot. The other soldier tells him to get down because those guys can shoot. Dunbar’s right hand is bloody, and he says the hospital was no good. Dunbar asks what is going on, and the soldier says he could ask the major nearby. Now the major is looking at the general. The soldier says so far only three milking cows have been killed, but he thinks that will change soon. Dunbar sees a horse, gets on it, and rides toward the Confederate Army. The general says it looks like a suicide. He rides parallel to their lines and miraculously is not hit while they shoot at him. He stops, and the Union soldiers cheer. The Confederates shout for him to come back. Dunbar rides by the Confederates again, and he puts his arms out to the side. A sharpshooter is about to kill him when he is shot in the head. The Union soldiers charge the Confederate lines.
Later Union soldiers walk through a corn field. The general finds Dunbar on the ground with one foot in the stirrup. Dunbar tells him not to take off his foot. The general says he will keep it, and he orders his aide to bring up his ambulance and his surgeon. He says this officer is worth something.
Dunbar rides alone and explains that while trying to bring about his own death he was elevated to a hero and was given the horse Cisco and his choice to transfer to any station he wanted. While the slaughter continued in the east, he went to Fort Hayes on the prairie. Dunbar limps a little and reports to Major Fambrough (Maury Chaykin) who assumes that he is an Indian fighter. He notes that Dunbar was decorated and asks why he chose this post. Dunbar says he always wanted to see the frontier before it is gone. He orders Dunbar to go on a knight’s errand and report to Captain Cargill at the furthest outpost at Fort Sedgewick. He folds the paper several times and hands it to him, saying that his personal seal will guarantee his safety through many miles of hostile territory. Dunbar asks how he will get there. Fambrough says he will grant him a boon and tells him that he can go with Timmons out there who is going to Fort Sedgewick this afternoon and knows the way. Dunbar salutes and starts to leave. Fambrough says he just pissed in his pants, and no one can do anything about it. Dunbar looks at the peculiar officer and goes out. Fambrough uses his wine glass to rap on the window and shouts to Dunbar that he is drinking to his journey and to his own. As Dunbar and Timmons are leaving, Fambrough shoots himself in the head.
Dunbar rides with Timmons (Robert Pastorelli) on a wagon pulled by six mules that pulls a second wagon. They head west slowly across the prairie. Dunbar finds a skeleton and an arrow. Timmons asks what he has and jokes that someone back east asked why he didn’t write.
At night they camp, and Dunbar is drawing. Timmons jokes around and farts. Dunbar thinks he is the foulest man he ever met.
In the morning Dunbar rolls over against Timmons, wakes, sees him, and gets up. He nudges Timmons several times and tells him to get up. Timmons swears. Dunbar decides to ride his horse ahead of Timmons and the wagons. Dunbar asks why they have not seen any buffalo. Timmons says sometimes they are thick, but usually you do not see them. Dunbar asks about the Indians, and Timmons says they are thieves and beggars.
They see a couple of buildings, and Dunbar says they are going down there. Inside the house Dunbar sees a Union uniform. In the other building he looks at the equipment. Timmons says everyone has run off or got killed. Dunbar tells Timmons to unload the wagon and says they are staying there. Timmons says they should head back, but Dunbar says this is his post. Timmons asks if he is crazy. Dunbar points his revolver at Timmons and orders him to help him unload.
After the supplies are unloaded, Dunbar takes a box of cans to Timmons on the wagon. Timmons says he will let them know where he is, and he wishes him good luck. Dunbar thanks him, and Timmons leaves with the wagons.
At night Dunbar writes that he arrived at deserted Fort Sedgewick and is awaiting word from headquarters. He is assigning himself cleanup duty; but he finds the country everything he hoped it would be.
In the morning Dunbar wakes, hears something, and gets his revolver. He sees that it is his horse. He works mending the fence. He goes with a bucket looking for water and sees a place of devastation. He finds a lake nearby and sees antlers in the water. He leaves the bucket there.
Dunbar has rigged up Cisco to drag a large bundle up a hill. He uses gasoline to burn the body of the stag on a bonfire.
Indians sees black smoke and believe that only a white man would make a fire that everyone could see. They wonder how many white men there are. One says they have no rifles and the white men are sure to have them. The leader of two others says they should go home, but the other Indian says he would rather die than argue about smoke. He rides toward the smoke alone.
Timmons is eating by a fire and is hit in the butt by an arrow from that Indian. He runs and is hit again in the leg. The third arrow enters his chest, and he falls. The warrior shoots another arrow into his stomach. Timmons gets up but falls down and is shot again. Four more Indians have arrived and have taken over the wagons. Timmons tells them not to hurt his mules. The warrior takes his scalp as Timmons screams. The Indians leave his body and depart with some supplies dragged behind a horse.
Dunbar wonders why men have been living in these caves. He aims at a wolf who is sitting and looking at him, but he does not fire.
After thirty days he has decided to ration his goods. He writes that the wolf has appeared every afternoon for the past few days. He is going to call him “Two Socks.”
Dunbar bathes in the lake and hangs up his clothes to dry. An Indian on a white horse sees him. Dunbar is singing and sees the Indian. He ducks down and watches the Indian come out of his house. When the Indian approaches his horse, he shouts to him. The Indian gets on his own white horse and rides away.
Dunbar digs a deep hole and buries excess armaments. After two days he feels he is prepared for the Indians.
In a tepee that Indian reports to his tribe what he saw. He says the fool is probably lost. Kicking Bird (Graham Greene) says the white men are coming, and he suggests they might be able to make a treaty with this man. A warrior proposes they shoot him with arrows to see if he has special medicine. An older warrior warns that if they kill a white man, others will surely come. The old chief Ten Bears (Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman) says they should talk about this some more.
At night Dunbar wakes up and starts talking. Then he hears sounds and gets his rifle. Three young Indians are riding away, and Otter (Michael Spears) falls off his horse and is hurt. Another says it was only his idea to steal a horse.
Dunbar wakes up in the doorway with blood on his forehead. He shaves by the lake as the wolf watches him. He hears horses and runs and sees a group of Indians stealing his horse. One Indian remains and rides toward Dunbar saying he is Wind in His Hair (Rodney A. Grant). Dunbar points his revolver at him, but after shouting that he is not afraid of him, the warrior rides off. Dunbar collapses on the ground.
Dunbar realizes that he has been wrong in waiting for someone to find him or for the Indians to take his horse. He has become a target and will not wait anymore. He has decided to ride out to the Indians. He is wearing his uniform, gets on Cisco, and carries an American flag. He looks around the plain and finds a woman singing. Stands with a Fist (Mary McDonnell) is white and is wearing a buckskin dress that is bloody. She appears frightened, and he tells her to wait. She holds a large knife and screams. He says he wants to help her. He grabs her wrists to remove the knife and puts her arms to the ground. She stops struggling, and he examines her. He puts her on his horse in front of him and rides to where he can see the Indian village and many horses by a river. He rides to the horses, and some Indians see him and run. The tribe has been alerted and watches him approach. He gets off his horse and carries the woman. He says she is hurt. A warrior comes up to him telling him he is not welcome and to go away. He drags the woman to the other Indians. They have not understood each other’s languages, and Dunbar gets on his horse and departs slowly. Three young warriors start to ride after him, but Kicking Bird makes them stop.
At sunset in the head tepee the chief Ten Bears says he agrees with Kicking Bird that they should talk with the white man and find out why he is here. Wind in His Hair (Rodney A. Grant) disagrees and says he is only a trespassing white man with supplies and a smart horse. Ten Bears tells the warrior to go with Kicking Bird.
Six Indians on horses watch as Kicking Bird and Wind in His Hair ride up to Dunbar who waves to the others and motions for them to sit down. They sit on the ground. Dunbar acts like an animal, and Kicking Bird thinks he means tatanka while Dunbar says “buffalo.” Dunbar calls Wind in His Hair “the fierce one” and considers him honest and direct. He likes Kicking Bird better for his quiet ways and eagerness to communicate. He assumes he is a leader among his people.
More Indians visit Dunbar who demonstrates his coffee grinder as they drink some. He presents some sugar and has Wind in His Hair taste it. They leave, and he is glad to have some company. He gave away his coffee and sugar to improve relations.
Stands with a Fist is working, and Kicking Bird has a talk with her in his tepee. He says her wounds are healing and asks if she is happy living with his family. She is glad to be there but misses her husband. He says she may marry again when the time is right, and she says she may. He says they have word from many places that the whites are coming into everyone’s country. He says the white man living at the old fort has a good heart. She shakes her head and says she is afraid of him. She is afraid that he will tell others and that they will take her away from here. She has heard they do that. He says every warrior will fight them if they try that. He says that he cannot understand the white language, and the white man cannot speak Sioux. She says it has been a long time since she talked that language, but he asks her to try. She insists she can’t and says it is dead in her. He persists in asking for her help to find out what he knows. She is upset and runs away from the tepee. His wife sees her go and asks if she will speak the white words; but he says she is being difficult. His wife says maybe the difficulty is his.
Stands with a Fist thinks she hears someone calling her Christine, and she remembers being with her family when the Pawnee came to them. The Indians attack them, and little Christine runs away. She wakes up by the river.
Dunbar offers some food to the wolf to make him a friend. Kicking Bird and Wind in His Hair arrive again, and Dunbar says he has not seen any buffalo. Kicking Bird gives him a buffalo fur, and Dunbar tries to offer them food; but they go away. He waves to the Indians in the distance, and one responds.
Dunbar writes about the Indians that they are not the bugbears people expect. He believes they are concerned that there are no buffalo. He has been invited to the village.
Dunbar rides his horse and is joined at the village by Kicking Bird and Wind in His Hair. In the tepee Kicking Bird passes him a pipe to smoke. Stands with a Fist comes in and sits down. Kicking Bird tells her to tell him that they are glad he is there. Dunbar replies that he feels good. Kicking Bird tells her to ask him why he left the fort. She tries to translate, and Dunbar asks her name and the name of the Indian. Kicking Bird agrees that introductions should come first. He asks if he is chief, and she says no; but he is a holy man. He asks her name, and she stands up and folds her arms. Dunbar gets “stands.” She makes a fist, and he figures out she is Stands with a Fist. He says his name is John Dunbar.
The three walk on a ridge at sunset.
At night by a fire Dunbar writes about the progress they made, and he is glad to be home at Fort Sedgewick. During the night he feels the ground shaking and hears something. He runs to the ridge, but it is foggy. He sees buffalo running nearby. He rides his horse.
The Sioux are dancing by a fire and chanting. Dunbar arrives on his horse and shouts that he has seen buffalo. The warriors take him off the horse and gather around him. He says “tatanka,” and they cheer.
The Sioux are moving to find the buffalo, and Dunbar rides with them. He feels appreciated by them and says he has become a celebrity among them. He rides next to Stands with a Fist and tips his hat to her. Kicking Bird has him ride with him away from the others. They form a group and find the skinless carcasses of buffalo lying on the plain. They are very sad. Dunbar realizes they must have been slaughtered by Americans for their tongues and hides.
At night the Sioux celebrate their hunting while he sleeps apart from them.
The next day Dunbar, Kicking Bird, and others crawl up a ridge and see a large herd of buffalo. He uses a telescope and lets Kicking Bird look through it.
The Sioux are prepared for the hunt, and Dunbar rides with them. The buffalo begin to run as the Sioux hunt them. Dunbar rides and shoots with his rifle. The Sioux use arrows and spears. A buffalo charges, and a boy is thrown from his horse. The buffalo charges him, and Dunbar shoots at it three times until it falls in front of him. He asks if he is all right and shoots it twice more. The buffalo have run away, and they gather the killed buffalo. Wind in His Hair cuts out the heart of the buffalo Dunbar killed and takes a bite of it and then hands it to him. Dunbar eats the heart too.
At night they celebrate their successful hunt. Dunbar tells Wind in His Hair that he is full and cannot tell the story anymore. Wind in His Hair admires the buttons on his uniform, and Dunbar takes it off so that he can try it. Wind in His Hair puts it on, and Wind in His Hair gives him what he wore on his chest. Dunbar says it is a good trade. He says he can’t do any more, but Wind in His Hair holds up one finger.
In the tepee Dunbar uses signs to tell the story of the hunt again as the Sioux laugh. He tells a man that he is wearing his hat. They stand up, and others stop laughing. Wind in His Hair tells him that the hat belongs to Dunbar. The man says he found it on the plain. Wind in His Hair tells him to give him something for it. The man tosses him his knife in a sheath. Wind in His Hair says it is a good trade. Dunbar falls asleep in the tepee, and he wakes up and sees Kicking Bird making love with his wife. They stop and look at him and smile.
At sunset the Sioux travel on a ridge. Dunbar has returned to his home after three days of hunting. He had been completely alone, but now he feels lonely. At night he dances around a bonfire as the wolf watches.
Two days later he misses his friends, and he plans a visit for tomorrow. He rides his horse and tells the wolf to go home. He gets off his horse and tries to make the wolf leave. They run around, and some Sioux see them and approach.
In the autumn Dunbar is given his own lodge among the tribe, and he says they talk every day; but he feels Kicking Bird is frustrated with him. He wants to know how many white people are coming, and Dunbar says he has told him they will only pass through this country. He realizes he is speaking half-truths because eventually there will be too many; but he does not tell them that. He thinks Stands with a Fist knows he is holding back, but she says nothing. He plays with the children.
Dunbar has asked to go with a party against the Pawnee and hopes he has not gone too far. Kicking Bird and Stands with a Fist come into his tepee and tell him that the Pawnee have done nothing to him. He says they are enemies of the Sioux. Kicking Bird says only Sioux warriors can go. Dunbar says he has been a warrior longer than many of their young men. Kicking Bird says that the Sioux way of the warrior is different from the white ways. Dunbar says he can’t learn these ways in camp. Kicking Bird asks him to watch over his family while he is gone. Dunbar accepts this honor and will be happy to do it. Kicking Bird thanks him and calls him Dances with Wolves. She explains that is the name all the people are calling him now. He remembers the incident and asks how they say it.
The Sioux warriors leave on the war party. Women work scraping the buffalo hides. Dunbar walks with Stands with a Fist and says he cut off his mustache. She is teaching the Lakota language and says that grass grows on the prairie. She corrects his mistake, and he tells her not to laugh at him. While she is washing a bag in the river, he asks how she got her name. She says she was quite young when she joined them. She worked very hard, and one woman called her names and beat her. One day she hit her hard, and she fell down. She was still smaller than her. She stood over her and held up her fist, asking if any other woman wanted to call her bad names. She says no one bothered her after that day. He asks her to show him where she hit her, and she touches his chin with her fist. He falls back, and they laugh. He asks why she is not married, and she says she has to go. He says he is sorry and asks if he can help her; but she runs off.
Dunbar talks to an older Stone Calf (Jimmy Herman) who is painting and says he is learning fast. Dunbar wants to know about Stands with a Fist and why she has no man. He says she is in mourning and cries for someone. He says it is not polite to speak about the dead; but because he is new, he will tell him. He says he was killed and that is how he came to find her on the prairie. Dunbar asks how long she will mourn, and he says that Kicking Bird will tell her when she is done. He was the one who found her when she was a child.
Kicking Bird’s wife tells Stands with a Fist that people are talking about her. She asks what they are saying, and she replies that they are proud of the medicine she is working with Dances with Wolves. She says she hurt him and should talk to him. The wife says she can’t because he left this morning. Stands with a Fist runs out and looks around.
Dunbar picks up a stick. At home he is reading his illustrated journal. He writes that he loves Stands with a Fist. He goes out of his house and sees the wolf. He kneels down with dried meat and holds it out for the wolf to take it from his hand. Slowly the wolf creeps forward, takes it, and trots off.
Stands with a Fist is walking in the river. Dunbar arrives there and sees her. She turns to him. They walk toward each other, and they kiss passionately. She says they must be careful. He picks her up. They walk together hand in hand, and he kisses her again before she returns to the village.
At night in a tepee Stands with a Fist removes her dress, and Dunbar kisses her. They make love by the fire. She says there is trouble.
At night Dunbar runs to the head tepee. Stands with a Fist tells him that a war party of about 40 or 50 Pawnee are coming. Cheyenne hunters saw them to the north. He tells Stone Calf to wait, and he will follow him. Stone Calf says the Pawnee do not come for horses but for blood. He tells Dunbar to get his weapons and come to his lodge. Dunbar says he has many rifles at the fort, and Stone Calf tells the chief. Ten Bears says the ride is long, and they cannot spare the time. Dunbar says rifles make one warrior like two. Ten Bears tells him to take one warrior and go quickly. Dunbar says he will take young Smiles a Lot (Nathan Lee Chasing His Horse).
Dunbar and Smiles a Lot are on horseback in the rain trying to find the place where he buried the weapons. They find it and begin digging.
The Pawnee war party is riding horses in the river.
Kicking Bird’s wife burns an herb in her tepee.
Pawnees on foot in the river approach with their bows. Others run on the plain to the trees and drive horses away. They enter the village running, and the battle begins. Dunbar shoots them with his revolver and tells a Sioux to shoot the gun. Dunbar wrestles with a Pawnee and is being choked but manages to shoot him. Some of the Sioux are using rifles. Stands with a Fist shoots a Pawnee who entered the tepee. Stone Calf is killed by a Pawnee. The Pawnee is shot in the leg by an arrow from a group of women and charges them. Then he rides away in the river. He is surrounded and whoops. The Sioux encircle him and then suddenly shoot him dead. Dunbar says he was never in a battle like this without some objective; this was fighting to defend their homes. He regrets the loss of Stone Calf. He feels pride in identifying with his Sioux name.
The Sioux warrior party returns, and they are greeted by two Sioux with rifles. That night they celebrate. In the head tent Dunbar pretends he is tired, and Wind in His Hair tells him that Horseback has are good gambling games. Dunbar says he is tired and that Horseback already has a rifle of his. He gets up and says good night. Kicking Bird’s wife sees Stands with a Fist leave too. Later in bed she asks Kicking Bird how much longer she has to mourn, and she hopes it will not be long. He asks if something has happened, and his wife says Stands with a Fist has found love again with Dances with Wolves. He asks if she is certain, and she says if he sees them together, he will know. He asks what people are saying, and she says they like the match. He asks if anyone is angry. She says it makes sense because they are both white. He supposes he must be the one to say something. She says she is his daughter now. She says he can’t see everything coming, and he tells her to quit playing.
The next day Kicking Bird sees Stands with a Fist and tells her not to mourn anymore.
Wind in His Hair helps Dances with Wolves dress up and says he looks good. He says the man she mourned for was his best friend. He was a good man, and it has been hard for him to like Dances with Wolves. He admits he is not the thinker that Kicking Bird is. He always feels anger first, and there were no answers to his questions. Now he believes he went away because Dunbar was coming.
Stands with a Fist is wearing a white and blue dress, and Kicking Bird conducts her wedding to Dances with Wolves who has not been married before. While Kicking Bird is talking about the duties of a Sioux husband, he says he was absorbed in looking at her. Yet he says he heard all he said. Kicking Bird says he can take her inside as his wife. Dances with Wolves thanks him, says goodbye, and walks off with Stands with a Fist to a tepee.
Dances with Wolves is dressed as a Sioux and tells Kicking Bird that they are trying for a baby. Kicking Bird learns he is not waiting. He says that the greatest of all the paths in life is the trail of the true human being. He thinks Dances with Wolves is on this trail, and it is good to see him. They walk with their horses, and Kicking Bird says they call him a busy bee. They sit, and Dances with Wolves tells his friend that many more white people will be coming. Kicking Bird asks how many, and he says like the stars. He says it makes him afraid for the Sioux. Kicking Bird nods and says they must tell Ten Bears. He gets up.
In the head tepee Ten Bears shows them a Spanish helmet from the time of his grandfather’s grandfather, and they drove them out. Then the Mexicans came, but they don’t come anymore. In his time the Texans came and like the others took without asking. He does not know if they are ready for these people, but he agrees that they will keep coming. He says their country is all they have, and they will fight to keep it. Tomorrow they will strike their village and go to the winter camp.
The Sioux are taking down their tepees. Stands with a Fist asks Dances with Wolves if he is still involved with the soldiers’ work. He says there is nothing for him there, and she says that is good. He remembers his journal and tells her the words in the book are a trail that people can follow. He says it tells everything about his life there, and he must get it. Kicking Bird says they can’t wait for him. He embraces Stands with a Fist and says he will catch up. He rides off.
Dunbar rides to the old fort and sees that soldiers have arrived and put up tents. They see him dressed as an Indian and start shooting at him. They shoot his horse several times as he shouts no. The horse falls, and the soldiers run over to him. He feels bad for the horse as they gather around him and point their rifles at him. A soldier knocks him out as more soldiers arrive.
The Sioux are traveling with Stands with a Fist. At sunset Kicking Bird tells Wind in His Hair that something has happened and that Dances with Wolves is not coming. He tells Wind in His Hair to pick two good men and send them to the soldier fort.
In the house Dunbar wakes up, and Sergeant Bauer (Larry Joshua) tells Spivey (Tony Pierce) to alert the major (Wayne Grace) who comes in and asks if he speaks English. Bauer hits him, and Dunbar says he speaks English. The major asks who he is, and he says he is Lt. Dunbar and that this is his post. The major asks why he is dressed like that. Dunbar says he came out there from Fort Hayes last April, but no one was here. He tells them where his journal is, and he says his orders are in there. Lt. Elgin (Charles Rocket) says Spivey was the first one there and asks if he found the journal. Spivey says they found nothing. They try to locate the journal. Sergeant Bauer laughs and asks if he turned Injun.
Two soldiers make Dunbar walk and beat him for looking at his horse being eaten by vultures. Dunbar hits back, and they beat him up.
Dunbar’s face is bloody, and he is chained. Elgin hands him a damp cloth to wipe his face. Elgin asks why he is out of uniform. Dunbar asks what the Army is doing out here. Bauer says he was asked a question, and Elgin reprimands Bauer. Elgin says they are ordered to apprehend hostiles and recover stolen property and reprieve white captives taken in hostile raids. Dunbar says there are no hostiles. The major says they will determine that. If he will guide them to these camps and serve as an interpreter, his conduct will be re-evaluated. Dunbar asks what conduct, and the major says that his status as a traitor might improve if he cooperates with the US Army. Dunbar says there is nothing for them to do out here. Elgin asks if he is willing to cooperate. He talks to them in Sioux, saying that they are not worth talking to. The major stalks out, and Elgin orders Bauer to form a detail and take this man down to the river to clean up his face. He excludes Spivey.
Dunbar is washing at the river as soldiers watch. Spivey is looking at the journal. Another soldier asks him for paper to wipe his anus. Spivey asks if he can read, and the soldier says neither one of them can read and just give him some paper. Spivey rips out the page where he had written that he loves Stands with a Fist.
The two Sioux peer over a ridge and see Dunbar walking in chains at the Army camp.
Dunbar is sleeping, and Spivey brings him a plate of food. He touches a feather and tries to take a gem Dunbar is wearing. Dunbar wakes up and grabs his wrist. Spivey calls for Bauer who comes in and laughs as Spivey is pushed away. Dunbar kicks dust at both of them, and Bauer stops Spivey from attacking him. Bauer says he is going to get hungrier, but it may not matter because he heard they are shipping him back to Hayes. When he gets there, they are going to hang him. Dunbar kicks dirt again.
Bauer and several soldiers are taking Dunbar in the back of a wagon across the prairie. They see a wolf and stop. They start shooting at it. Dunbar trips Spivey and starts choking him with his chains. Bauer hits Dunbar in the head with his rifle butt and believes he saved Spivey’s life. They continue shooting at the wolf which dances around until it is wounded. Spivey is kicking Dunbar and telling him to get up. Elgin orders Spivey to stop, or he will shackle him. Elgin makes those chasing the wolf come back. Wind in His Hair and Smiles a Lot are hiding on the other side of the ridge. The wolf is dead.
The wagon pauses in a river as they wonder what is behind the trees. Spivey mocks the prisoner. Elgin orders them to move on. As they get across the river, Elgin is hit in the chest with an arrow as several Sioux attack. Wind in His Hair kills a soldier with an arrow. Dunbar knocks Bauer into the water and uses his chains to knock down a soldier who drew a knife. The warrior with Dunbar’s hat throws a spear. The Sioux attack the soldiers. Dunbar drowns Spivey in the water. Bauer survived in the water and tries to kill Smiles a Lot but only wounds him. Wind in His Hair kills Bauer with a tomahawk in his back. All the soldiers are dead, and the journal floats downstream.
In the winter camp snow is on the ground. The war party returns with Dances with Wolves. Stands with a Fist runs to welcome him, and they kiss passionately.
The snow is deeper. In the head tepee Ten Bears asks Dances with Wolves why he is quiet these days. He asks if his heart is bad. He replies that killing the soldiers at the river was a good things, and he was glad to do it. However, the soldiers hate him now more than anyone. They think he is a traitor, and they will hunt for him. When they find him, they will find the Sioux. He thinks it would be wise to move the village now. He is leaving. He must go and talk with those who will listen. They object, and Wind in His Hair says he is hurting his ears. Ten Bears asks the others to leave him alone with Dances with Wolves, and they go out. Ten Bears says he is the only white man he has ever known. He has thought about him a lot, and he thinks he is wrong. He says the man the soldiers are looking for no longer exists. Now he is the Sioux named Dances with Wolves. He hands him the pipe to smoke. Dunbar is glad that he wants him to stay; but he is certain that the Army will use him to find this place. He tries to persuade him to move the camp, but the chief only talks of simple pleasures.
Wind in His Hair sees Stands with a Fist go into a tepee. Inside Dunbar asks if she has anything to say. In English she asks what she can say; he has made his decision. She lays her head on his chest and says her place is with him. He asks if she is afraid, and she says no. He says they are going to leave when the snow breaks. He told Ten Bears but not everyone.
Kicking Bird is looking for something and is angry. His wife says it is all right.
Dunbar is carrying a pipe, and he sees Kicking Bird who says he finished his pipe. Dunbar gives it to him, and he says it is good. He asks how it smokes, and Dunbar says he never smoked it. Kicking Bird gives him a present and says they have come far, and Dunbar says he will not forget him.
Soldiers are traveling on horses in the snow.
Smiles a Lot looks at Dunbar, cries, and runs off. He has given him the water-logged journal. Dunbar and Stands with a Fist leave on horses with a pack horse. Wind in His Hair calls to him from a mountain top.
Soldiers on foot are coming down the side of a mountain. An Indian is guiding the major. They hear a wolf howling.
Thirteen years later the last freed band of Sioux submitted to the US Army at Fort Robinson in Nebraska.
This drama depicts how the westward movement of Europeans affected the Sioux in the plains who were increasingly oppressed by the American military after the Civil War. Their point of view is explored by an American officer who by himself finds that he can learn to get along with them. He compares their natural ways to the cruelty of the Army and adopts their way of living.