In 1988, a crumbling personal diary is unearthed near an Indian Reservation in North Dakota. The weathered pages reveal disturbing insights into the author’s guilt-ridden mind.
The journal, written by James Johansen in 1966, details his brief stay on a desolate Reservation. James is a middle-aged psychologist recruited from East Los Angeles who becomes too intrigued with the disjointed stories of a young Indian woman who appears at the door of his primitive two-room Counseling Center.
The young woman, Mara, draws him into her stories about the native spirits and offers to reveal the source of her troubling dreams. She leads him to the Rugaroo, the terrifying spirit that promises understanding and control over the weak.
"Bonne Homme", an old Chippewa gentleman, urges James to change the direction of his journey before it becomes impossible.
The journal also allows the reader to share the touching relationship between the desperate psychologist and a warm and caring nurse from the Public Health Service. Barbara Lonepine is the beautiful Sioux Indian who gently tries to pull James away from his compulsion with the spirit that fills his tormented dreams and his tortured waking hours.
The disintegrating document lays bare a journey that James Johansen begins with innocent fascination. The childlike fascination slowly becomes an obsession that compels him toward a path of awful destruction.
These moldy pages pulled from the earth allow us to understand how the Rugaroo is an allegory of the human collective unconscious.