I grieve... for you... and for the loss of your son.
Oh, he may be another victim of my people.
It could be smallpox.
It ain't for sure.
Now, you're gonna have to burn everything this boy has touched.
Burn his blankets, his clothes.
And you're even gonna have to burn down this tipi.
It's possible that the white man's discovered some kind of remedy, cure.
Something to make your people strong.
You will have to trade with the white man.
I have never traded with the white man.
Well, I ain't asking you to trade for trade's sake.
I'm asking you to save your people.
Who will save us from the white man?
In the summer of 1840, a smallpox epidemic wiped out over half of the Blackfoot nation.
I was a young woman then, and this country was known as the Indian Territory.
49 years later, after the wagon trains had moved westward, and the cowboys arrived with their herds of cattle and pushed the buffalo off of the grasslands, it was to become the state of Montana.
But in my youth, this big sky country belonged to the eagle, the elk, the buffalo, and the bear.
The people here were as much a part of the land as the wind and the sun.
Looking north is Canada, where the aloof and proud Blackfoot Tribes blended like shadows into the landscape.
There, for generations, they have told around their campfires the legend of a great, young chief of the Blackfoot and of a white girl.
I was that girl.
And the Blackfoot chief was called...
Because his people were in deadly peril, Winterhawk was forced to ride to the white man's camp.
The only white people in this country then were mountain men and a few missionaries.
Some of the mountain men, like Winterhawk's friend Elkhorn Guthrie, married Indian women and built strong bonds of friendship with the tribe.
Back then, Winterhawk was probably the most mysterious Indian in the West.
Even to the Indians.
No white man but Guthrie had ever seen him.
We'd heard of Winterhawk, but there was some doubt he really existed.
It was said by the Indians that this legendary and mysterious young chief, riding like the wind on his spotted white horse, was a messenger of the spirits.
That he could smell like a wolf, run like an antelope, and see like an eagle.
The furs he trapped were said to be the finest in the land.
Amazing Grace How sweet the sound That saved a wretch...
I am Clayanna Finley.
My brother Cotton and I had come West with our uncle, Will Finley, who was a missionary and a trader.
He was taking us to join our father.
The yearly fur rendezvous was a big event in our lives.
And all the people for a hundred miles around gathered to trade and enjoy each others company.
Amazing Grace How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me I once was lost But now am found Was blind But now I see
I don't know what he is.
But if my guess is right, he's Blackfeet.
Anybody here speak Blackfeet?
Anybody here speak Blackfeet?
Yeah, I know a little of the tongue.
I come... to get... medicine.
Well, now, the cure and the remedy for what?
Oh, my God!
Well, uh, we can't help you here, but him and me, we know a man that lives over there that maybe he can help you.
If you'll just come with us, we'll take you over and talk with him.
That'd be all right?
You just follow along behind us, kind of.
But hang back a little, though.
Come on! Get! Move!
Scoby! What are you up to?
Shut up and watch me!
Get over there! Get over there!
Get over there.
Let's go, let's go!
One of 'em got away! It don't matter! Go get them first!
From the sound of gunfire, we knew something had happened in the woods.
Watching the young chief on his magnificent horse as he raced away, I heard someone say, "It's got to be the one they call Winterhawk. "
Now, long after the sound of his hoof beats had faded in the distance, and the shock of those murderous shots had passed, the sight of him, riding away, stayed in my thoughts.
Bits of stories I had heard about Winterhawk came to mind, and I wondered, "How did this man exert such power by his mere presence?"
It gave me a very strange feeling.
Clayanna, I don't want you going out no more at night alone, especially after what happened today.
I'm all right.
Uncle Will, who is Winterhawk?
I don't know.
He's the son of Chief Red Calf, and that gives him pretty high breeding.
So, if it means what I think it means, he'll be back.
You mean, he'll be back for Gates and Scoby?
I figure he'll locate us long before he does Gates or Scoby.
When you found those two dead braves, was there any sign which way Gates and Scoby headed?
It looked like to me they headed down the river.
From the smell of him, I wish he was heading down wind.
Son, then I say we go after Gates and Scoby.
And turn them over to Winterhawk.
That might work, but I don't think Winterhawk's gonna be too particular about who he gets even with.
Sis, do you believe in God?
Of course I do, Cotton.
You don't believe He's an old man with a long, white beard, do you?
No, I don't.
Then, what is He?
Oh, gosh, Cotton.
That's gonna be hard for you to understand.
He's everything, and He knows all about you.
He judges what's in a man's heart.
Like our Pa?
No. No, not exactly like our Pa.
Although our Pa is a great man of God.
But God is a force, He's... He's a power.
He's the creator of everything that's good.
But does He protect us?
Well, of course He protects us. Come on.
Oh, my God, Cotton, run!
Run, Cotton! Please, hurry!
Let me go! Let me go!
Help me, somebody! Help me!
Please! Please, let me go!
Winterhawk Slowly you can sail Borne upon the winds Where gods play And the sacred stone's spirits speak Of the passing sounds To all their dreams Winterhawk Hear your people cry With their tears recall Great men die From the morning mist Trouble came Heals the bleeding land Once again He's a hawk, he'll fly None will see him now Winterhawk Tastes the wide stream Walks the pathless woods Lost in dream And the bird of prey Soars in flight Cross the mists of time Till star-bright
Oh, my God!
Whoa, damn it!
I ain't asking you to do this for nothing.
I've got a little money, and I'm willing to pay you for the loss of time.
Now, what do I need with money?
What could money possibly buy me that I ain't already got?
You just look around you here.
I got shelter, I got fresh meat on this table almost every day, and all the loving a man my age could possibly stand.
No, you ain't lookin' at a man in want, Mr. Finley.
And, besides, he's my friend.
What does that mean?
Who's your friend?
You think he's out to hurt him, Guthrie?
No, no, I think they're gonna be well-treated and be raised as Blackfeet, most likely become members of the tribe.
Well, Clayanna's a mature woman. Besides...
Is she ugly? On the contrary.
Well, then, you got no problem.
Winterhawk don't like her, some big buck will take a shine to her, make her his squaw.
You are an Indian lover!
You knew that before we brought you up here.
Looks like what we got here is, uh, matter of pride.
Pride? Pride, hell.
Everyone of you knows that Finley's got a little money, and you just think you might have a chance to get your hands on some of it.
You ain't worried about no boy and girl.
All right, I'll go with you.
But not because of your damn pride or because of your money.
Pale Flower, get me some more stew.
Now, I'm going with you because...
I kind of feel responsible for all this.
I sent Winterhawk down there to trade for the cure.
And I didn't have sense enough to go along with him to see there would be no trouble.
And that's why I'm going.
We leave at first light.
What does he want with us?
My uncle will pay you in trade goods to get us back.
Why don't you quit, sis?
He don't understand nothing.
Winterhawk not steal for money.
He take you and boy because white man steal from him.
What's the matter with him?
The white man is following.
But he must turn back.
Don't you worry, Cotton.
They'll catch up to us.
Way before he can get us into that high country.
Now, weeks had passed since Cotton and I had been taken captive.
I had expected the worst.
But so far, we had been treated fine.
Of course, the hard riding from dawn 's first light to evening's darkness, and the rough food, which was normal for them, was very hard on little Cotton and me.
Whose cabin is that?
It don't make no difference if you want to eat.
Besides, it might be Guthrie.
He's the only I know with a place in these parts.
Now, keep it quiet.
Well, will you lookie here!
Get her! Get her!
Come, Gates! Get her! Get her!
Go get her, Gates! Hold on to her!
Get her, Gates!
Get her, Gates!
Whoa, watch it, Gates!
Whoo! Get her, Gates!
Get her! Get her!
Get her, Gates!
Don't let her get that gun! Grab her!
Don't let her get that gun! Get her, Gates!
Ah, get her, Gates!
Oh, you a wild one, ain't ya?
Yeah, now, what are you? Huh, Flathead?
Little Blackfeet? Crow, maybe?
Oh, I think Blackfeet, huh.
Yeah. You know how to cook, do you?
Yeah, well, why don't you just fix us up a little meal, 'cause, uh, I like to eat first.
Now, let's see.
I've eaten, smoked.
Now, what ain't I done?
How come you had to do that?
What ain't I done, Scoby?
You ain't had no lovin'.
That's right, ain't it, Gates? That's right, ain't it?
I knew I had overlooked something.
Guthrie ain't gonna be back.
If he ain't back before now, he won't be back.
It's just you, me, and her.
Ain't it, Gates?
Get that loaded.
All right, let's move it, jughead!
Move. Here, boy.
You didn't have to kill her.
I said, let's go.
Cotton, stop it! Please, stop it! Stop it!
Honey, please, stop it, stop it!
I ain't scared of you.
If my hands weren't tied, I'd...
Untie my hands!
Hold 'em there!
I kind of thought you'd be there.
Guthrie still comes.
How many? He is with five.
Two others follow. One day behind.
We will fight.
Guthrie is wise man.
He will not bring white man on our land.
Guthrie, he thinks like a Blackfeet.
He is still a white man.
He will follow.
Should man fight his brother?
I do not listen to myself.
I listen to Winterhawk.
And if Guthrie dies?
Then, it is the way it must be.
I ain't never seen anything like this before.
No, no, me neither.
Maybe it's a trap.
We had become so burned by the wind and sun, it was hard to tell Cotton and me from the Indians.
Weeks of hard travel had left us bone weary.
How I was frightened and worried that Uncle Will or some of the men might be injured or killed, because it had been several days since Winterhawk had sent his braves to stop them.
Suddenly, there was one of the braves coming down the river.
I have lost two brothers.
Guthrie? He has lost one.
Help me! Sis, come back!
Somebody, please! Sis!
There is no way to describe how I felt when I watched him cut little Cotton 's hands free.
But time kept passing, and now it was November, in the moon of the freezing rivers, and we kept moving deeper into the wilderness of Canada.
Great flights of geese often darkened the sky as they flew southward.
And the chill winds that moaned through the trees at sunset warned us of a cold winter coming.
I was determined to try once more to persuade Winterhawk to let us go.
I want to talk with him.
If he will let my brother and me go, he will be rewarded.
If Winterhawk does not free us, more white men will follow him.
He must understand.
There are many more white men than Blackfeet.
As Chief, he must not allow two white men's mistakes to bring such suffering to his people.
Winterhawk must be greater than his enemies.
He must forgive them.
Send us home.
He says you speak well for a white woman, but he does not believe in your words, as the white man has strangled the Indian with words.
Well, I'll tell you, there ain't nothing to equal a full stomach.
Wouldn't you say so, Finley?
Nothing's happening out there. Good.
Finley, you enjoy this while you can.
You trying to tell me something?
Which way we heading?
Well, I'll be. Now, that's a good guess.
Hey, we're heading north, we're following Winterhawk, and his people are migrating south after their food supply.
It's coming on the end of fall, it'll soon be winter.
That means less food and a hell of a lot of snow and cold.
Could be spring before we overtake Winterhawk.
Hey, now, there's another good guess.
Unless Winterhawk decides to turn around and overtake us.
He already lost two braves, maybe even a third.
So, from now on, anything that moves is more than likely a Blackfeet.
Let's get some shut eye.
Oh, Little Smith.
Would you mind sleeping down wind?
Why?! Well, because, I have smelled this damn thing you got around your neck about all I intend to smell it, that's why.
Well, Mr. Guthrie, you might do well by yourself if you was to wear one.
This here's my life bag.
And it's kept me alive in these mountains all these years.
Little Smith, would you mind telling us just what in the world you've got in that thing?
Well, I couldn't do that.
Well, you see, it's kind of... it's kind of personal.
All you gonna know is I ain't gonna take it off.
And I'm gonna keep right on living and surviving in these here mountains.
Well, you sleep down wind so we can survive the night.
Wow! Oh, oh!
Hey, you see what I see?
There's a man what calls himself taking a bath.
Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
What you doing?
I just finished my bath, and I'm gonna dry off and go finish my breakfast and take a nap.
You know something, Little Smith?
You just flat out stink.
Surely, you ain't talking about me. I just finished my bath.
Can you see?
You haven't been clean in 30 years!
Well, he's clean now!
The bag, Rude!
Bring the bag!
You want to say something?
I don't know what to say.
Your springs shall be less green.
Your winters more severe.
Your enemy shall grow strong.
For a great strength has gone out.
He was a... hell of a mountain man, sir.
We had learned that the warrior believes that the plains are afloat in mysterious space and that the winds blow straight from heaven.
This boundless land inspires visions and dreams.
Enwrapped in a cloak of mystery as he retreated into his thoughts.
They watched, fascinated.
But a little fearful of what action would follow his meditations.
The persistence of Elkhorn Guthrie, who we now knew led Uncle Will and the mountain men, was obviously giving him grave concern.
He seemed to be staring across the mists of time, listening to whispered voices writing on the long winds that stirred the thousands of miles of grasslands with the changing seasons.
A couple more days, and we'll be in snow country, huh?
Sure looks that way.
And we can sell these furs, find us a place, and hold up for the winter.
In Blackfoot country?
Why not? It's on the other side.
The other side's Canada, ain't it? Yeah.
You're in trouble there, ain't ya?
Yeah, but, uh, I'm gonna forgive them if they'll forgive me.
Been after that boy all summer to fix that.
Where'd you get 'em?
Where'd you get 'em?
He can't talk, he's a deaf mute.
I don't suppose he can write either?
They all say I pay top dollar in this country.
That's why we're here.
Pass is still open up north?
Bridges had some snow.
Johnson's still clear.
Crossing into Canada?
Well, I don't know.
I'm with him, and he ain't told me yet.
Let's do business.
We ain't heading north.
That's right, we're going to McClusky's.
Come on, Mr. Finley!
Come on, go! Go ahead!
Ah, McClusky. It has been a long time.
Been expecting you all day.
Expecting me? How's that?
When I buy a bunch of furs with your wife's mark on it, I reckon you're not far behind.
My wife's marker...
What the hell are you talking about?
Two white men. Come in early this morning.
Not only had them furs, but this pack and a pinto.
And I swear it looked like a twin to Pale Flower's.
One of 'em is short.
One of 'em be kind of tall.
One of 'em didn't have much to say.
One of them was meaner than hell.
I told them Johnson's Pass was clear.
I watched them pull out for you, Guthrie.
That's where they was headin'.
Where's he headed?
Johnson... We just got here.
McClusky, my name's Will Finley.
I'm looking for a band of Blackfeet led by one they call Winterhawk.
They took my niece and my nephew.
Have you seen or heard of 'em in these parts?
Heard of 'em.
But I ain't see 'em.
Very few white men have.
What are you trying to do, Guthrie? Kill us and the horses?
I'll start a fire. No fires.
It's freezing. Fires can be seen.
You wait here.
Try to put it in the cup and not on me this time.
You reckon we got a good price on those hides?
Yeah, just think we got enough for that pinto.
I seen your fire.
I thought I might join you.
I could sure use a cup of that coffee.
Well, you must be part Indian, sneaking in on us like that.
Oh, thank you.
Hey, Gates who's your friend?
I got separated from my party.
I've been tracking a couple of thieves.
You two, you're pretty far north.
What you doing?
Just kind of minding our business.
Huh, meaning I ain't?
Oh, no, don't mean anything.
Unless your business is my business.
God, please, please!
He did it! He did, I swear to God!
I swear to God, he did it! Did what?
I don't know what he did. I didn't see him.
I didn't touch her. I didn't even look at her.
I swear on my mother's grave!
You never had a mother.
You, pick him up.
I said, pick him up.
What are you going to do with me?
I don't know.
But it'll be something special.
That Guthrie's crazy!
We're getting so far back in these mountains, if we don't starve to death, we'll freeze!
Well, I don't even have a fat squaw to keep me warm.
Well, even those Indians are better off than us.
I hear they've got a good-looking woman with 'em.
Don't you talk about my niece that way, you scoundrel!
Let me take care of this for you, Mr. Finley.
He smarts off at you one more time, you'll be preaching at his funeral.
My pony gonna be all right?
Your pony be fine.
Snow make pain go away.
Your pony strong.
You got a wife?
Winterhawk have no woman.
Died many seasons ago.
Winterhawk say, tell you, with hair like snow.
He once had son who was fast like the wind and curious like you.
He, like his mother, died of white man's disease.
Hey, I'm glad you're back.
Just in time for evening prayers.
Dear Lord, we thank Thee for Thy bounties and for seeing us through another day without harm.
We ask Thee to be merciful, for those...
He ain't married.
Now, you be quiet and finish your prayers.
Dear Lord, we ask You to watch over us, deliver us from evil, and return us safely home.
Now, come on.
Go to sleep.
How did you know?
How did you know he wasn't married?
I told you, he was my friend.
So, I asked him for it.
Young man, from now on, I'll do my own asking.
This was a bitter and endless cold.
The icy winds cut like a knife and the creeping numbness of our bodies made going on almost unbearable.
For the life of me, I don 't see how little Cotton kept going.
We were lost in a white world.
And I watched horses struggle through the deep snow, gasping for breath in the thin air.
Hunger hovered over us like a dark vulture.
And I wondered when - when will it all end?
What do you suppose happened to Big Rude?
Been away a long time now.
Never known him to get lost before.
He knows the country, he'll be along.
What I'd like to know is why you doing this.
Well, Gates is my friend!
Well, I got a right to know! You got no rights at all.
Well, you could've given him a decent burial.
I give him nothing!
Better keep moving, Guthrie.
You look tired, my son.
Well, I don't understand. He is your brother.
The white man not trade.
We have no medicine.
Now, Guthrie leads them against us.
Guthrie, he follows because of woman and boy.
People are dying.
They have white man's sickness.
They need your strength, my son.
Do not bring more trouble.
I not give back boy and woman.
Well, what you do with them?
Trade, for medicine.
Now, they are my strength.
This will not save face.
It will only lead to more killing.
It is not my wish.
You have said many times, it is better for man to die in battle than die of old age or sickness.
When I was young like you, my son, I said many things.
Now that I am old, I have many scars to show for my quick words.
Rest, my son. We will talk later.
Don't move, old man, or I'll cut your throat!
Now, I got something to trade.
Come on, old man. Come on!
Keep walking. Come on.
I got something you want.
You got something that I want.
Stand up, old man!
Old man! Stand up!
They're burning him alive!
Guthrie, that Indian wants us to turn back.
We better do it, Guthrie, before they burn him any more.
You get Little Smith's long rifle, and you try a shot at him.
I'll never reach.
You get it, man! You fill that long rifle full of powder!
You try! At least try, man!
You can do what you want to me, but you bother Miss Clayanna and that little boy, I'll come out of here and get you!
You gone loco? How come you just sit there?
Don't you see those Indians out there?
The children! I see the children!
Thank God they're alive!
Scoby, you come with me. Me?
Why me? I ain't no good at talkin'.
Mr. Finley's a talker. Take him.
You pick up that pack horse, you bring your friend with you.
I'm coming, I'm coming!
Cotton! Come back!
Please, come back!
Winterhawk, Chief of the Blackfeet, not speak to the white dog who was once his brother, but who betrayed him.
I have not betrayed him.
I bring him the two men who cheated him.
Guthrie, you ain't human!
No white man would turn over one of his own kind to... a bunch of savages!
Boy and woman, for medicine.
No medicine, no trade.
Well, I ain't leaving without 'em!
Then, we fight.
Stop! No! No!
Winterhawk! Go back!
Cotton! Cotton! No!
Cotton! Cotton! Cotton!
Oh, God, Cotton! Oh, God!
Get out of my way!
You're gonna be all right. Cotton!
You want him?
My warriors will not honor him with death.
I don't want him neither.
Scoby, hand me the range on that pack horse.
Well, now you're throwing him off. Get him off.
Give me your coat. What?
I said, give me your coat!
Sis! Come on, sis!
Sis, come on!
Come back, we'll talk!
I can get you white man's guns, reins.
I'll get you whiskey!
You can't leave me out here just to die!
Come back, we'll talk!
Suddenly, I realized what I had to do.
That it was my life, and only I could choose the path I would travel.
I knew Cotton would be all right.
I was not to see my brother again for many years, until he was grown with a family of his own.
I and Winterhawk melted into the forest in the mountains.
And the howl of the coyote echoing in the moonlit canyons became our music.
And the wail of the wind and the cry of the winter hawk, our song.