The characters in Sign of the Beaver are Attean and Matt. In the story, Matt's family is having a baby the cabin that Matt lives in is in the middle of a forest. And when the baby comes, it is to be born at the hospital very far away, Matt isn't allowed to go, and he has to stay at the cabin and try to survive. Then, an Indian tribe leader comes and makes an agreement that Matt will teach the leader's grandson, Attean, how to read. In return, the people of the tribe will supply Matt with enough food to live on. Matt's parents have been gone a long time ago, they were late, when the dog that Attean owns gets caught in a bear trap, Matt has to go back to the Indian village to get help. Things aren't going his way, Attean says that his tribe may be going to move forever, what will Matt do?
The setting in this book is in a cabin in a clearing of a forest, Matt's father found it when he was searching for a place to live in after Matt was born, ever since, they have been living in a middle of a forest with nobody or shops nearby, they had to live with what they had in the forest. That meant to find their own food. Apparently, it happens that Indians were living in this area. So Matt has to make do with them.
This story happened in the 1700s when the Europeans found out about America. This is also the time when the Indians and the coloners had troubles with them, there were often wars about land and hunting grounds. It really wasn't to good a place for Matt to live in.
This book was written to show people what life could be like back in the 1700s. She wanted to show people how it was when two cultures met together, normally, it caused a lot of conflict. It was also written to show how people can make friendships even if the people may not be alike. In the story, Attean considers Matt as a brother in the end.