At the Wyoming Wind River Reservation, Araphos meet for their powwow when their tribal chirman, Henry Castle, is discovered, murdered.
Fr. John O'Mally, SJ meets with his assistant who wonders if the murder had to do with the oil on the reservation. O'Mally also understands that there was an argument about buying back the Cooley ranch where ther might be additional oil that could help the financial plight of the Indians.
Fr. O'Mally is a historian and is asked to look into the historical documents of the Araphos and this adds insight into the tribal members. The police seem to think that the murder could have been personal but O'Mally comes upon evidence that it might have more to do with Indian history.
There is also a Romeo and Juliet atmosphere, tenderly described as we learn of a youthful romance between Henry and a wealthy white rancher's deaughter, this is carried on to today where Henry's nephew and the daughter of Henry's old girlfriend have developed a romantic relationship.
The story mixes drama, history, and momance mixed with the pathos of life on the reservation. Those interested in American Indian history and Tony Hillerman fans will enjoy the story.