Tomson Highway’s children’s book Caribou Song is effective at showcasing a uniquely Indigenous story because it depicts two specific members of a First Nations community. Highway’s story doesn’t try to tell about Indigenous people as if they were one large monolithic group. Instead, he spotlights two particular children. The portrayal of Joe and Cody communicate that Indigenous people, like all other types of people, possess distinct qualities, talents, personalities, and so on.
Cody’s unique identity arrives via his fondness for dance. Highway’s text communicates the fact that Cody likes to dance practically wherever and whenever he can. He’ll dance on the rocks, on the ice, in the morning time, and under the full moon.
Meanwhile, Joe likes to play a musical instrument: the accordion. Joe’s fondness for the accordion rivals Cody’s affinity for dance. Like Cody, Joe plays the accordion basically whenever and wherever he can.
Highway’s text also draws attention to the brothers’ mom and dad. He makes it clear that these boys have their own family with their own special experiences.
What happens to the brothers and their parents in relation to the burst of caribou should get the reader thinking about how members of historically marginalized groups are multifaceted and irreducible.