So take the Old West. How much of its reality was tempered by the pop fiction even in its own time. Pulp writers turned out these little books that told a story that didn't actually exist but sold well for the people who weren't living where they had any way to know what happened to be. Pulp fiction played to the emotions of the readers.
This is also true regarding stories of the Native Americans where they can be portrayed as heroes or demons depending on the novel or even history book. That's the fascination but also the pothole awaiting a writer who wishes to cast their story during a time they aren't living, don't actually know the truth of, and have to base their 'facts' on what they read or are told.
Navajo ponies for Comanche Warriors by Frank McCarthy, a gifted artist telling the story of the West through his paintings. Disclaimer: I have one his prints in our Tucson home. I like western art as much as western books
Obviously some of the facts stated in the article are facts but are they the only facts? This link would differ:
We've all heard how the Native Americans were the great environmentalists but-- seriously? Do those saying that know of practices like driving a buffalo herd off a bluff and taking what they could use from the carnage below? Or moving villages regularly for sanitary reasons? On the other hand-- the idea of dirty Indians when the whites who came from Europe rarely bathed while the native peoples regularly did. Or calling the natives savages when they had more elaborate and often fairer systems of government than often the Europeans?
So what do we want to believe? In a lot of ways that's the essence of writing any historical novel. Find out all that was said-- both sides. Sort through it for what rings truest to the writer and reader. Of course, that's the real problem because the truth of even what is happening today is not that easy to come by.
I think it's interesting to write historical romances, or I wouldn't have done it over the years; but I don't kid myself that what I write might be the exact truth. It's one of them.
What I will claim, for the characters I write and for my favorite historical romances, is this. The characters who are set into that time, they will react like humans do and they will ring true even today for their reactions. What is different is their upbringing, environment, and the circumstances into which they are set.