Great Books


For Teachers


For Parents


For Students


Great Happenings in Schools


Books in the Wild



Send us your lesson plans, book reviews, and suggestions!_________________

Recommend these activities to a friend



More about Native Americans...

Test your native IQ

Teaching about Native Americans

A Native American view on "mascots"













bookcrossing symbolHeart of a Chief


Author Joseph Bruchac         

Publisher Puffin 1998

Concepts/ Topics covered in book:

This book depicts Native Americans today facing a society that does not understand their culture. Set on an intentionally fictional reservation in New England, a boy enters the local middle school and deals with the normal fears of growing up as well as with the difficulties of living in two worlds. Provides wonderful images of strong, activist teachers and administrators. The main character successfully leads a drive to change the school mascot “the Indians” as well as fighting a proposed gambling casino on the reservation. A great follow up to Sign of the Beaver -same region and “tribe”.

Guiding Questions/Activities

Before reading:

  1. Think of some words that describe your heritage.

  2. Put them in the names of teams/jokes/catch phrases. [like Slovaks, Popes, Jews]

  3. Discuss whether or not you agree with their use
4. Make a chart listing words the students think of when they hear the word Indian.

During reading:

Keep a running list of words that describe the native American characters in the book.

After reading:

What gave the main character his inner strength?

What makes a good leader? How did the main character show signs of leadership?

Compare the original list of native American descriptor words with the descriptions of the characters in the book. Are any stereotypes revealed?


This title fits these anti-bias criteria

historically accurate
received awards
culturally accurate
hero serves a just cause
all groups show power & leadership
author/illustrator are qualitative to write about this subject
no stereotypes in language or pictures
recent copyright

This book fits these categories

Develops self-worth: Shows positive role models
Economic discrimination
Addresses an issue
Racial prejudice
Illustrates activism


Classification  Chapter Book

Acceptable grade levels   Elementary/Middle School- 4h and up



About the Author

Joseph Bruchac is of Native American descent and has written numerous books for children and young adults.

Visit Joseph Bruchac's website at

Related reading;

Eagle Song by Joseph Bruchac

Warriors by Joseph Bruchac

Through Indian Eyes by Beverly Slapin and Doris Steele

Related activities

Have students select a state on the US Mascot map and graph some of the data. Have students share their graphs.

Find a local school or tem that has an mascot that is disrespectful of native Ameicans and have students write letters to that group or to the local paper.