Bailey has fled her life in Maine following the death of her simple-minded sister in a house fire, but her demons of guilt and jealous anger still haunt her. Despite her disappointments with men, Bailey carries on a highly charged but unacknowledged flirtation with Kash, the head of an Alaskan tribe, the Ingalik, whose land surrounds her tiny camp on the river. Her niche as bush pilot and trained emergency medical technician barely survives anti-white sentiment until the coming of two young white visitors she must ferry to the tribe’s hunting lodge.
Alpha and Zack have signed papers agreeing to follow the tribe’s guidelines during their stay at the lodge. Kash hopes they will be the first of many tourists bringing money to the impoverished tribe. Zack, however, knows of a gold-bearing stream deep in the woods near the camp, and plans to use their vacation time to collect a fortune. What Zack does not realize is that both Kash and the foremost anti-white leader, Match, also know about the gold.
Zack does not tell Alpha of the hostility they might face, and she is shocked when tribal members attack them during their brief stop at the village, throwing rocks at Bailey’s hydroplane as they scramble to escape. As the only whites present, they are scapegoats for the death of a young husband and father from alcohol.
Despite the heavy-handed allusions in the naming of the characters, the story is engaging and the confrontation at the end is gripping.