Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Book 39- One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd, a novel

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus is an incredible fictional account of something that could've really happened.

Chief Little Wolf of the Cheyenne Nation proposed an idea of President Grant: the Cheyenne would trade 1000 horses for 1000 white women in an effort to continue to perpetuate the Native bloodline while teaching the Indians how to assimilate to the ways of the white man. Grant, while feigning outrage in public, he privately made the deal.

This is the story of the first wave women who agreed to go west to help "Christianize the savages." The story told through the journals of May Dodd, a plucky woman who was sent to a mental institution by her family because she fell in love and lived in sin with a mean below her station. She only way to escape her imprisonment at the asylum was to agree to this government proposition. The women who agreed would go west, marry a Cheyenne brave, birth him 2 children and then they were free to leave. If they couldn't bare children within two years, they were also then free to leave.

This is an amazing story of the courage of women. May Dodd endured with strength and a positive attitude. She also found love and she found a way of life that suited her, and she found true friends. May's journals, although fictional, depict the harsh realities of the nomadic life of the Native Americans post- Civil War, but also the beauty. This novel is a story of survival and of the inhumanity of men against other men. It was haunting and touching.

My heart nearly broke for May and the other women. I know it's fiction but I couldn't help get wrapped up in the lives of these women, their energies, their joys and so very real fears, and to giggle along with them as they learned the way of life like nothing before.

Excellent novel. One of the best I've picked up this year.