An interesting issue that came to me while thinking of some of my stories. I am working on some historical fantasies set in the "New World" prior to the arrival of Europeans. A lot of the scholarship regarding the state of American Indian societies in the new world has changes in the last 60 years. The same is true for Central and South American societies. The new thinking is actually supported by sources contemporary with the European arrival, but at odds with what most people were taught and still think about the peoples who lived here before the Europeans arrived.
By way of example, whether you are talking about North or South America, the inhabitants had substantial impact on the land, shaping it for their own use (in clever, and very sophisticated ways, I might add). Great portions of what we now see in the Amazon area appear to be remnants of some of the most intensive and sophisticated "terraforming" the world has ever seen. The traditional view of North America as a state of wild nature, complete with images of extensive populations of game animals, was probably the result of European arrival and the decimation of Indian populations by disease, removing the key "check" on the cultivated environment that existed long before the Europeans arrived.
The cultures in my stories reflect this changed view of things, at least to the extent I have been able to accurately do so as a result of my research. Most readers still have the traditional, and inaccurate, view of the pre-Columbian New World in their minds, and I would like somehow to impart to the reader that a lot of what I am trying to portray in terms of society appears to be accurate, and not something I'm just making up as an author. Because my stories are also "fantasy," the lines between true history and authorial invention become even more blurred.
I've tried a few ways of getting this information across, but ultimately it comes down to more authorial intrusion than I want in the story if I'm going to juxtapose the traditional 19th-20th century viewpoint with how things really were.
1. Does it strike any of you as important to establish some things that will seem "invented" to many readers as true representations of what life was like; and
2. If the answer to number 1 is "yes," what ideas do you have for accomplishing this?
For a novel, I could use an Appendix, I suppose, but I'd like to keep everything within the story itself to the extent possible.