Admiral Nechayev informs Picard that a settlement between the Cardassians and the Federation has created new borders between the two powers, placing some Federation colonies in what is now Cardassian territory. Picard is given the assignment of evacuating one of those planets, a 20-year-old enclave of North American Indians located on Dorvan V. He reminds her that the American Indians were once unjustly forced off their land centuries before, but Nechayev stands firm, ordering Picard to remove the settlers "by any means necessary."

Picard and Troi meet with the members of Dorvan V's tribal council, who express their unwillingness to leave. Meanwhile, Wesley Crusher, who is taking a break from Starfleet Academy, confuses everyone with his strangely sullen, moody attitude. A villager named Lakanta, recognizes Wesley, and approaches him saying that he has been waiting for him for two years, and can help Wesley find the answers his troubled spirit seeks.

Wesley goes to the Indian village, but is confused when no clear path presents itself. He talks with Lakanta about his puzzlement. Meanwhile, Picard meets again with the council, and is informed that the group has no intention of leaving. Picard sadly says that he has no choice but to remove them, but one of the leaders, Anthwara, says he does not believe Picard will do this, and reveals that one of Picard's ancestors was involved in a brutal massacre of Indians seven hundred years before. Anthwara states that Picard was somehow chosen to right this wrong. Surprised by this revelation, Picard leaves the meeting, then discovers that three Cardassians have landed on Dorvan V.

Picard asks the trio's leader, Gul Evek, to leave, reminding him that the Indians have six weeks left to evacuate. Evek, however, is anxious to begin surveying the planet and refuses. Picard reluctantly orders Worf to prepare an evacuation. Meanwhile, Lakanta takes Wesley to the Habak — a traditional ceremonial chamber where he begins his spiritual odyssey. Soon, he finds himself face-to-face with his father, who says Wesley has reached the end of a journey which started after the elder Crusher's death, and must now find his own path. His experience over, Wesley wanders back into the village and finds Worf preparing to remove the Indians by transporter. Deeply affected, Wesley suddenly takes the side of the North American Indians.

Furious, Picard confronts Wesley about his behavior, but Wesley, simply resigns from Starfleet. While packing to leave, he tells Beverly about his vision, realizing his father was telling him not to follow in his Starfleet footsteps. Beverly understands and reminds him about the Traveler, a mysterious alien being that once said her son was destined for something different. Wesley returns to the standoff on Dorvan V, where Lakanta reveals himself to be the Traveler. With the Traveler, Wesley has begun a new journey, which will take him to other planes of existence. Meanwhile, Picard is able to convince Evek to avoid another war with the Federation by allowing the Indians to maintain their colony under Cardassian jurisdiction. The U.S.S. Enterprise then departs, leaving behind Wesley, who will study with the Indians as the next step in his journey.