In 1886, Geronimo, chief of the Chiricahua Apaches, finally surrenders to the US Cavalry. As he carries a white flag to the victors, however, Massai, a young warrior who refuses to accept surrender, shoots at both the flag and the assembled soldiers. Massai is soon subdued; he and the other warriors are separated from the women, children and old men of the tribe and herded onto a train bound for Florida. On the journey Massai escapes
In Oklahoma territory, he meets a Cherokee Indian who tells him that after years of fighting and running, his people finally realized that rather than living on a reservation, the Cherokee must grow their own food and live in peace with the white man. He arrives back in New Mexico and tries to persuade the new chief, Santos, and his daughter Nalinle (Jean Peters), to adopt the Cherokee approach and negotiate a ‘warrior's peace’. But Santos hands him over to the army.
Massai escapes again launches a private war against white civilization and kidnaps Nalinle, believing her to have helped in his betrayal. Pursued he lets her go but she refuses to leave him. She eventually persusades him to plant corn and settle, and the army calls off the war, noting that no Apache had grown corn before.
After being under contract to Fox for seven years Jean Peters married Howard Hughes in 1957 and disappeared from public life for thirteen years, retreating to an isolated hilltop mansion above the Santa Monica Mountains. She resurfaced in 1969, shortly before her divorce from Hughes, studying for a degree in sociology at UCLA under an assumed name.
Robert Schiffer & Harry Maret were the makeup artists.