Indigenous Peoples: Then and Now

Lesson 9


Explain what messages Chester received about speaking Navajo and why the messages changed.

Readings and Materials

  • Book: Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code, A Navajo Code Talker's Story by Joseph Bruchac  pp. 1 – 11 — Stop at "June 1952: Month of Big Planting"

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Target Task


Writing Prompt

What messages did Chester receive about speaking Navajo from 1929 to 1942? Why did the messages change? 

Mastery Response


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Key Questions


  • What happened when Betoli went to boarding school? How does the illustration on page 2 help readers understand what happened?

  • How does Chester feel when he is back at home? Why do his feelings change? 

  • Compare and contrast the illustrations on pages 4 and 5. What emotion does each illustration convey? Why? 

  • Chester says he wanted to “prove his worth.” What does he mean by this?

  • How does Chester respond when the principal shares that the United States was at war? 

  • Why did the U.S. military recruit Navajo soldiers? 



captive     (n.)

a person who is caught and held as a prisoner

encode     (v.)

to put a message into the form of a code so that it can kept secret

decode     (v.)

to find or understand the true or hidden meaning of something

Enhanced lesson plan

Enhanced Lesson Plan

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Common Core Standards

  • RI.3.3 — Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

  • RI.3.7 — Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).

Spiral Standards