Joseph Boyden, where are you from? - The Globe and Mail: Mr. Boyden is just the latest. Last year prolific scholar Andrea Smith’s claims to Cherokee ancestry were debunked. Before Ms. Smith were academics Susan Taffe Reed and Ward Churchill, writers Margaret Seltzer and Archie Belaney (Grey Owl), actors Espera Oscar de Corti (Iron Eyes Cody), Johnny Depp and so on. There is a long tradition of playing Indian.
While Canadians (and some indigenous people, including other Anishinaabeg) have responded to these findings regarding Mr. Boyden with support for the author, it is important to recognize that this kind of behaviour is also pernicious, in a variety of ways.
Firstly, it misrepresents indigenous peoples. When Mr. Boyden’s novel The Orenda was published in 2013, I wrote a critical review. For me, the work seemed detached from the claimed indigenous voice. Of course, while the diversity of indigenous peoples makes defining that voice challenging, it universally comes from our experiences as indigenous. Without that experience, results inevitably include inaccuracy and stereotypes.
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