Quiet Thunder and Black Bearís plans to be together are shattered by a military captain who promises Lakota children success in the white manís world. They journey to a Pennsylvania boarding school in hopes of securing their tribeís future in an increasingly white-dominated society. Despite its promise to help Lakota, the school strips students of their Native American identities. Forced to speak and dress as whites, can the love between Quiet Thunder and Black Bear survive if they no longer recognize one another? How can they return to their tribe if they cannot even recognize themselves? Where do they belong if they canít find a place in the white manís world?
Amid the swirling haze of the dance, Black Bear emerged, solitary in his fullness of being. The only dancer who did not look a shadow. Quiet Thunderís breath stilled as she watched him move with slow strength, his arms spread like soaring eagle wings, his feet like prancing horse hooves. Like her, he chanted with yearning. The pain in his face spoke of all their tribe had lost, even over these past few winters. His dance slowed, and his face smoothed, though he appeared in a different kind of trance. She felt the power in his lean muscles as he reached his arms skyward. When he let them drop, outstretched toward her, his gaze met hers. He must have felt her spirit reaching for his. And his reached for hers, carried in song. In that moment, their spirits joined in their own dance. Her heart leaped, and fluttered against her ribs like a trapped bird. So powerful was their connection, she could almost feel his embrace enfolding around her, his heart beating in time with her own. The dust turned golden in the light of day. Before he continued along the circle, Black Bear gave a nod and disappeared into it. Unsure what to make of the vision, Quiet Thunderís breath caught in her throat, and her voice failed her. She glanced at her mother, Pretty Eagle, whose eyes held sadness even though she smiled. Pretty Eagle raised her chin and sang, but her gaze, too, followed Black Bear into the amber haze. The warriorsí chant of hu! hu! hu! stopped sharply, its echoes filling the silence. Quiet Thunderís heart swelled with a nameless ache as Black Bear stood tall among the others, a hard gleam in his dark eyes, mouth set in a grim line. Not the trickster boy sheíd known all her life, but a proud, fearsome warrior.