In 1863, First Lieutenant John J. Dunbar (Kevin Costner) is injured in the American Civil War. Rather than having his leg amputated, he takes a horse and rides up to the Confederate front lines, distracting them in the process. The roused Union army then attacks and the battle ends a Confederate rout. Dunbar survives, is allowed to properly recover, receives a citation for bravery and is awarded Cisco, the horse who carried him, as well as his choice of posting. Dunbar requests a transfer to the western frontier so he can see its vast terrain before it goes. Dunbar arrives at his new post, Fort Sedgwick, but finds it abandoned and in disrepair. Despite the threat of nearby Native American tribes, he elects to stay and man the post himself. He begins rebuilding and restocking the fort and prefers the solitude afforded him, recording many of his observations in his journal.
Dunbar initially encounters his Sioux neighbors when several attempts are made to steal his horse and intimidate him. In response, Dunbar decides to seek out the Sioux camp in an attempt to establish a dialogue. On his way he comes across Stands With A Fist (Mary McDonnell), who has injured herself in mourning of her deceased husband. She is the white adopted daughter of the tribe's medicine man Kicking Bird (Graham Greene), as her white family was killed by the Pawnee tribe when she was young. Dunbar returns her to the Sioux to be treated, which changes their attitude toward him. Eventually, Dunbar establishes a rapport with Kicking Bird and warrior Wind In His Hair (Rodney A. Grant) who equally wish to communicate. Initially the language barrier frustrates them, so Stands With A Fist, though with difficulty remembering her English, acts as translator.
Dunbar finds himself drawn to the lifestyle and customs of the tribe and begins spending most of his time with them. Learning their language, he becomes a hero among the Sioux and is accepted as an honored guest after he locates a migrating herd of buffalo and participates in the hunt. When at Fort Sedgwick, Dunbar also befriends a wolf he dubs "Two Socks" for its white forepaws. When the Sioux observe Dunbar and Two Socks chasing each other, they give him his Sioux name "Dances with Wolves". During this time, Dunbar also forges a romantic relationship with Stands with a Fist and helps defend the village from an attack by the rival Pawnee. Dunbar eventually wins Kicking Bird's approval to marry Stands with a Fist, and abandons Fort Sedgwick.
Because of the growing Pawnee and white threat, Chief Ten Bears (Floyd Red Crow Westerman) decides to move the tribe to its winter camp. Dunbar decides to accompany them but must first retrieve his journal from Fort Sedgewick. However, when he arrives he finds it occupied by the U.S. Army. Because of his Sioux clothing, the soldiers mistake him for a Native and open fire, killing Cisco and capturing Dunbar. Sgt Baur (Larry Joshua) interrogates him, but Dunbar cannot prove his situation as soldier Spivey (Tony Pierce) secretly steals his journal. As a result, along with Dunbar's refusal to serve as an interpreter to the tribes, he is put on trial for treason and transported back east as prisoner. While travelling in the armed caravan, the soldiers kill Two Socks when the wolf attempts to follow Dunbar.
Eventually the Sioux track the convoy, killing the soldiers and freeing D
Dances with Wolves is a 1990 epic western film directed, produced by, and starring Kevin Costner. It is a film adaptation of the 1988 book of the same name by Michael Blake and tells the story of a Union Army lieutenant who travels to the American frontier to find a military post, and his dealings with a group of Lakota Indians.