At the age of 12, Will Cooper is sent to run a remote mountain trading post, which sits near an Indian village in the Appalacian Mountains. Will soon learns the Indian's language, and is befriended by their leader, a man named Bear. Bear eventually adopts Will as his own. There is also a love interest named Claire. Will falls in love with Claire from the moment they first meet. But she is married to someone else, and that is, of course, a problem.
The rest of the book focuses on the Indians trying to salvage a way of life that is already gone, and trying to protect their land from the whites and stay where they are, even though the whites want to send all the Indians to the west. As a lawyer, Will does his best to help the Indians hang onto some land and keep them from being removed to some distant reservation.
The problem with the story is that it feels rather disjointed. The story is narrated by the main character, who sometimes goes into great detail about some events, and other times skips whole years. I guess the loose central theme of the book was how the native people were losing ground in their fight to stay where they were and not be run over by the white men. But this story, and the story threads branching off of it, weren't executed very well. Also, I won't give away the ending, except to say that it wasn't so much an ending, as a fizzling out of the story.