Chief is a painted bronze rendition of Indiana’s herm Chief (1962), which was created as a pendant to the painting The Calumet (1961). The works reference Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "The Song of Hiawatha."
The bronze Chief was first exhibited in Robert Indiana: Early Sculpture, 1960–1962, at the Salama-Caro Gallery in London. Indiana considered bronze, along with marble, to be one of the noble materials in the tradition of European sculpture. Because of this, as well as the longevity of the material, the artist had long wanted to turn his herms into bronze. This dream was realized in 1991, when bronze versions of eight of Indiana’s early herms were created.