When a friend lent me this book, recommending it, he mentioned the controversy around it. I looked up the author on Wikipedia and read the scathing commentary, which almost put me off reading the book. I'm glad my curiosity prevailed, because it's worth reading. The book conveys some important messages about the way Western "civilisation" needs to recover our connection with the natural world, and it does so with great poetic simplicity.
The Wikipedia entry makes it sound as though this is a bit of corporate marketing literature, when it is quite the reverse - and the author is a natural writer: there are some really beautiful passages and perfect descriptions (for example, describing the rare sight of heavy rainclouds: "Occasionally we could even walk under the big overhead shadow, catching the same view an ant might see from the sole of a boot").
If books such as Robert Lawlor's "Voices of the First Day" are taken as a reference point, then it's not inconceivable that a tribe exists that lives in this way. In a way, though, does it matter? Although the outrage about cultural misappropriation is understandable, the heart of this book is clearly sincere, and if it's fictional then it is only employing a well-worn literary device that goes back at least as far as the Bible.
This book may well be a consolidation of the wisdom of various indigenous cultures, from Aboriginal to Native American, but distilling that wisdom into such a direct and beautifully written story is probably just what the doctor ordered when it comes to guiding a way out of the mess we've made - which we urgently need to do, for the sake of our planet and our species.