Truth and Bright Water by Thomas King
Atlantic Monthly Press, New York, 2000
Borrowed from the library.
I read Green Grass, Running Water some years ago and enjoyed it, but Thomas King had dropped off my radar until I joined the Canadian Reading Challenge.
Truth is a small town in Montana that lies on the Canadian border across from Bright Water, a reserve, the term the Canadian government uses for the lands set aside for First Nations. The two are separated by a river, the Shield.
Two young men, Tecumseh and his cousin Lum, along with Tecumseh’s dog, Soldier watch as a mysterious women jumps from a hill into the Shield. They run to help and never find her, or any evidence of her. Soldier does find a skull, the skull of a small child, the central mystery of the book.
From this opening scene we learn about the lives of the cousins and other members of their twinned community. Tecumseh’s parents, his aunt and Grandma, all live and thrive in their own individual ways and wait for the most exciting event of the year, Indian Days. There is comedy and tragedy and a wonderful image of a native american artist, Monroe Swimmer, painting a church out of the landscape. I could see it disappearing as I read.
King is blessed with the ability to evoke the land, much like Wallace Stegner. The novel is filled with symbolism, issues of culture, colonialism and race.
I enjoyed Truth and Bright Water and recommend it to anyone wanting to read Native American literature.