Indian Chiefs Critical Context - Essay

Russell Freedman

Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

As a biography for young adults, Indian Chiefs provides an excellent overview of these leaders and their roles in the history of the American West. Freedman’s clear narrative prose style makes the book suitable for a wide range of ages. For the reader at the lower end of the age range, Indian Chiefs is eminently readable and provides an objective, up-to-date view of Native Americans in the West in the nineteenth century.

Indian Chiefs can also serve to create interest in this period in history and stimulate the more mature reader to do additional research on particular tribes, battles, or chiefs. Such research could lead to an interest in primary-source materials and to a desire to visit relevant historical sites. Freedman’s Buffalo Hunt (1988), which tells of the demise of the buffalo, is an excellent companion book for use with this biography.

Included by Social Education on the list of notable 1987 children’s trade books in the field of social studies, Indian Chiefs can be useful in many areas of the school curriculum. It is a fully conceived work that does not overwhelm the reader with monumental amounts of information, but rather serves to plant a seed in the young mind, creating interest in both Native American history and the history of the settlement of the West. The book’s ability to function in this manner makes it an important young adult biography.