This book is based on the true story of Eliza Spalding, the first white child born in the corner of the Oregon Territory that is now the state of Idaho. The authors based their story on Eliza's book, Memoirs of the West, and on letters and diaries of people who lived in old Oregon. The Spaldings go to Oregon to be missionaries to the Nez Perce and Cayuse Indians. Eliza is born in the new country and grows up with the Nez Perce whose language she speaks fluently. Fearing she will not know the ways of her people, the Spaldings send Eliza to Mrs. Whitman's school at the Waiilatpu Mission on the Walla Walla. There Eliza meets more white children than she had ever seen before and learns deportment and how to read and write better. The Cayuse Indians are worried about the increasing numbers of whites coming over the Oregon Trail and fear for their lands. In November 1847, the Cayuse, never as friendly as the Nez Perce, massacre the white men and Mrs. Whitman at the Waiilatpu and take the remaining people hostage. Because of her fluency in Nez Perce, Eliza is unwillingly made to serve as a translator between the Indians and the hostages. Eventually the hostages are ransomed in late December and Eliza is reunited with her family.