Two days ago I was given the opportunity to guest host at the Twitter account @IndigenousXca; it’s a shared account that each week is hosted by a different First Nations person. It’s a larger and more influential audience than I’m used to, and I chose to use it to bring out into the open what a lot of us Natives have been saying about Joseph Boyden privately, that we question his Native identity. What led many of us to think this is that the way in which Boyden has described his indigenous background is confused.
On his Speaker’s Bureau Profile, where you can hire Boyden to give his signature speech titled “The Aboriginal Experience”, Boyden is described as Metis, an identity he also claimed when he won the 2005 McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book of the Year Award and its $5000 prize. At Carleton University’s Voicing Aboriginal Stories conference, Boyden was described as Ojibwe. To CBC Aboriginal, he presented himself as Anishinabe and Nipmuc. APTN’s Jorge Barrera dug into Boyden’s lineage, and found nothing to substantiate any of these claims.