Life has always been difficult and dangerous for those living on and around the Turtle Mountain Reservation. And when there is not enough of everything to go around, the old ways of surviving including sharing, short cuts, and hard work no longer provide solutions.
TRUE NORTH weaves the story of three impoverished farm families flung together in a pattern of racial tensions, secrets, and long-held grudges spanning the 1930s through the 1960s.
Complicating the troubles of these families is their proximity to Rolland, a town seemingly filled with quirks and quirky people including a powerful sheriff who may or may not be corrupt.
When young Leah's presumed former lover is found dead everyone concludes that her bigoted father is the murderer. The incident rekindles the ancient feud between her family and that of her close neighbor, Ida Florence, who bears a secret that if revealed would destroy any semblance of unity in her own family, already compromised by a son on his way to becoming a dissolute derelict.
Richie Lee, Leah's son, to avoid punishment from a youthful mistake, seeks to go to war, a move that would further distance him from his pacifist and passive father who is mired in the attitudes of a long-gone era while enduring the condemnation of the community over his unpopular beliefs.
And in the bizarre, convoluted way that isolated societies function, a third family, headed by the disturbed and unstable Fawn, is drawn into the tumult of violence and despair.
Already an outcast because of her primitive background, Fawn along with her heroic growing son and pathologically idealistic daughter struggle for acceptance because of her involvement with a widely-disliked Native American man and Fawn's own delusional obligation to her deceased husband.
Some members of the troubled families see relief in escape, others in sharing dark secrets. Still others remain as if implanted in the cold ground either from their inability to get away or from their innate determination to fight through conflicts at any cost using the only tools available—a return to the old ways.