In post–Civil War Texas, the Zachary family live quietly on a cattle ranch. But their bucolic existence is disturbed by the appearance of a stranger (Joseph Wiseman) who starts spreading a malicious rumor: their adopted daughter, Rachel (Audrey Hepburn), is a Kiowa Native American. The rumor, it turns out, is true. And soon the Zachary brothers (Audie Murphy, Burt Lancaster) and their mother (Lillian Gish) must defend themselves at all sides from both racist whites and vengeful Kiowa.