In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Cash Stillwater takes a break from making beaded jewelry to look up and see a flock of pigeons in the sky. His jewelry-making vocation has caused him to start seeing everything in rows—the same ways he sees beads. This way of lining up everything he sees makes him feel as if he is trying to make jewelry for "someone the size of God."
Cash actually gives all the fruits of his labor to his woman-friend Rose Levesque who works at Cheyenne Trading Post, a touristy store in town. She pretends to make the jewelry herself, as her job involves sitting in the window of the store, where she will look like a "genuine Indian" huddled over her work.
Cash makes dinner for himself and Rose, she tells him that the town council has decided to shoot the pigeons in town, since they are not natural to the area. Rose senses Cash's sad demeanor, and asks him if he is thinking about Oklahoma. Cash is from the Cherokee Nation, where he raised two daughters. One daughter committed suicide by driving her car into the river, and Cash has no idea where her baby is. Neither he nor Rose understands the disappearance. The other daughter Cash says might as well be dead. With his wife also dead, Cash feels there is no reason for him to return. Rose and Cash eat lunch at McDonald's the next day, where Cash continues to think about his family. We should note that Cash's sister married a man whose brother was married to Sugar, the same beauty in the Life Magazine advertisement who is Alice's cousin.
Cash works at a health food store by day, and one night after work goes over to meet Rose's boss Mr. Crittendon. He has figured out that Cash is making the jewelry, and is interested to know more about Cash's artistry. Mr. Crittendon asks solemnly about the beadwork, idealizing it as a sacred art.
Later in the week, Rose and Cash find Mr. Crittendon dead, having committed suicide. That night, Cash dreams of his dead wife, cooking for him at their home in Oklahoma. Cash awakes with the conviction that he has to return to Oklahoma. Before he leaves, he witnesses the pigeons being shot, which makes him feel oddly relieved.
Alice is flying from Kentucky to Las Vegas, where she plans to meet Taylor and Turtle, who she knows are in trouble. When she meets them at the airport, Taylor begins to cry, and the narrative shifts into Turtle's consciousness. Turtle is once again thinking about the "bad place." In the car from the airport, Taylor is telling her mother how she lost money gambling in Las Vegas.