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Joe Lightcloud, a brawling, half-Navajo rodeo champion, persuades an Arizona congressman to give Charlie, his father, 20 heifers and a young bull with which to build a herd on the Indian reservation. But at a party given by Joe for his Navajo neighbors, the bull, mistaken for a cow, is killed and barbecued by the drunken revelers, thus confirming the belief of Joe's stepmother, Annie, that anything initiated by Joe leads to trouble. Searching for another bull, Joe is sidetracked by Glenda Callahan, a lusty, gun-toting older woman with whom he was once involved. When he meets Glenda's daughter, Mamie, who has been kept in strict social isolation, Joe arranges to get Glenda out of town, then to give another party and romance Mamie. Though Joe does manage to borrow a second bull, a rodeo animal, it is definitely not interested in breeding. Meanwhile, Joe's half sister, Mary, has met a young white man whose mother is coming to call, and Annie is eager to redecorate the house before the visit. Gradually the heifers are all sold by Annie to subsidize the renovation, and Charlie is in danger of being jailed for selling government property. At the last minute, however, Joe saves the day by taking the borrowed bull to a rodeo, using the animal to win a big stake, and investing the money in a new herd.