Much of what passes for history in this country and elsewhere is intelligent speculation.
People get most of their history from novels, movies, TV and stories told to them as children. What we learn in school is connected to those stories just enough to render them (seemingly ) truthful, but does anyone really believe that George Stanley knew what Louis Riel was thinking and feeling when he wrote his book about the Metis of Manitoba?
Indigenous writers have to develop that capacity to speculate or we are left to the works of those telling stories about us from another room. We become part of the background if we let that happen. They will see us as objects and not as family.
But like those others, in order to speculate intelligently, Indigenous writers need to know themselves and have a belief in the humanity of our people and then they need to develop a degree of confidence in their knowledge bordering on arrogance. That’s why Joseph Boyden’s books Three Day Road, and Through Black Spruce were so compelling, and why his new one The Orenda is even better. It is not so much a story about us as it is our story. It’s not our story in the sense that it is about us but because it belongs to us. It tells them who we were, and are.
He continues to grow as a writer. A work of fiction it certainly is but you can see his confidence in the truth of the story.