This is a fantastic story, masterfully told and set in the Great Depression that captures so many aspects of the era, from hobos and children riding the rails to Indian schools and the Bonus Army's march on Washington, D.C. in 1932.
It's the story of 12-year-old Cal, who we meet after he's ridden the rails as a hobo with his father for the past year. The Great Depression is in full force. There's no work, Cal's father lost the farm, and his mother is dead. Cal's father decides, after a harrowing encounter with police, that life as a "Knight of the Road" is not for Cal. Cal deserves a stable home and a good education, and the only way he can give those to Cal, at this desperate point, is to enroll Cal in Challagi Indian school while he goes off to Washington, D.C. He joins the Bonus Expeditionary Force, an army of civilian veterans pressuring legislators to pay out a promised bonus for their service in WWI.
Cal is stunned to learn he's part Creek, and that his father has less-than-stellar memories of his time spent in the school. The conditions are harsh, the faculty bigoted and racist, and the fellow students tough on each other. He misses his father fiercely.
Cal also has visions, of a sort, like waking dreams, and when he sees danger headed his father's way, he runs away from the school to warn him.
I won't stay another word or I'll spoil it, but this is an excellent, well-told piece of historical fiction for both Native representation and the Great Depression era and one I'd highly recommend teaching.
There weren't as many free resources for teaching this text as I would've liked. The publisher offers a short excerpt.
I found this 37-page teaching unit, which is an older, but editable, Word 97 document complete with entrance tickets, vocabulary, chapter questions, quick writes, a graphic organizer for analyzing characters, instructions for a "character window," and a "mini language dive." It's correlated to 6th grade Common Core standards.
In addition, there was this 6-page pdf teaching guide as well, which explores the text's issues of race and identity, outdated and potentially offensive language, and the fact that the tale is told entirely from a boy's perspective, which has significant impacts on the story.