Sidney Poitier stars as Gypsy, a part-Cherokee gunslinger in this sweeping saga of romance, racism and revenge set in the West of the 1880s.
As the story opens, Gypsy rescues a young Cheyenne lad from a massacre and takes him to John Maxwell (Moriarty), head of the Indian Agency on the Cheyenne-Arapaho Reservation. Maxwell agrees to raise the boy over the objections of his Eastern-bred wife, Nora (Fawcett), and names him Corby White.
As Corby (Billy Wirth) matures, he develops a passionate attachment to Maxwell’s daughter, Rachel (Joanna Going). When Maxwell accidentally discovers that Rachel and Corby are lovers, he sends his daughter away to school and forbids Corby to marry her. Angry and betrayed, Corby decides to return to his people. Rachel later rushes into an unhappy marriage with Shelby Hornbeck (Hart Bochner), a wealthy Southern aristocrat with secret ties to the Ku Klux Klan.
Gypsy is persuaded by a leading black politician named Mossburger (Robert Guillaume) to lead a wagon train of former slaves from Tennessee to start new lives in the Oklahoma Territory. Among the hopeful settlers is Drusilla (Regina Taylor), a young teacher who captures Gypsy’s heart.
The pioneers name their new home Freedom and elect Gypsy to be the town Marshall.Gypsy’s attempt to keep the peace is shattered when two innocent young black boys are falsely accused of raping a young white girl. The Klan members burn out the settlers, lynch the boys and brutally attack Gypsy, leaving him to die.
Nursed back to health by Maxwell, Gypsy breaks off his relationship with Drusilla and begins a quest for revenge. When Rachel discovers her husband’s involvement in Gypsy’s tragedy, she flees with Corby and is forced into hiding where Gypsy finds them. Desperate fugitives all, hunted and pursued by vengeful authorities, Gypsy, Rachel and Corby take a fateful course of action and make a run for their lives.