Tuesday, January 9, 2018

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus, 434 pages

  Imagine you’re a women in the Midwest U.S. in 1875. Every woman is pretty much a second class citizen, but you are an unacceptable sort, even further outside the realm of power over your own life than most. Say you’re an unmarried woman with children, or a woman with mental illness committed to an asylum, or a prisoner, or an immigrant with a heavy accent, or you just have wild notions in your head. Regardless, your present is so challenging that your future appears hopeless. And then, you’re told that, if you like, you may be part of a program supported by President Grant. Only if you want, you may get a free pass out of whatever hard situation you find yourself in. You are given the opportunity to travel with other women, each one who has accepted the offer to permanently join with a nomadic Indian tribe that you've only heard to be savages, marry an Indian, birth, and raise a family as an Indian wife.
  Such is the premise of this book. May Dodd sets out as a participant in the Brides for Indians Program, never again to see her parents, siblings, lover, or children she’s leaving behind in Chicago where she was raised and educated. She has no idea what to expect from a new life in the wilderness with the Cheyenne people, but she knows she is expected to help assimilate the tribe into the white man’s world.
  I liked May, the women who became her companions, and the Cheyenne people in this book. I rooted for the women and their new tribe all the way to the end. The book did a good job of pulling me into the world, albeit a fictionalize world, of one Native American Tribe as it struggled to survive foreign invasion of their land and lives.

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