The painting Chief is unusual in Indiana’s oeuvre for its incorporation of cursive letters, here evoking the Coca-Cola logo. The word “chief” appears again, in the same cursive script, in the painting Decade: Autoportrait 1965 (1975). In an interview with Susan Elizabeth Ryan (May 5, 1992) Indiana noted that it was a reference to having met President Johnson, the Commander in Chief, when his work was exhibited at The White House Festival of the Arts in June 1965. The work exhibited in the festival was The Calumet (1961), whose pendant is the sculpture Chief (1962). The painting’s red and yellow rays recall the herm’s red and yellow danger stripes, and the works share the same title, however the chief referrenced in the herm is Hiawatha, the precolonial Native American leader and co-founder of the Iroquois Confederacy.