Debbie's World of Books
My book reviews, book news & random rants

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

October 22nd, 2008 by Debbie's World of Books

I would have to give this book 4 1/2-5 stars.

It’s about a group of white women who are sent as “brides” to a Cheyenne indian tribe in hopes of assimilating them into the white, civilized life.  May Dodd is one of them women recruited from an insane asylum to serve as one of the brides.  She keeps journals of her experiences and those of the other white women as they adjust to lives with the Cheyenne and eventually what happens to the tribe.

She was committed to the asylum by her family for the illness of promiscuity since she fell in love wiht a man beneath her station and chose to live with him out of wedlock and have two children.  In order to escape the asylum she volunteers to be a bride in a program negotiated between the US government and the Cheyenne chief Little Wolf.

Along the way she makes good friends among the other brides and also meets and falls in love with a soldier in the army, John Bourke, but she knows she has to fulfill the obligation she signed up for and is chosen by Little Wolf to become his third wife.  Eventually most of the women come to love or care for their Cheyenne husbands and soon bear their children.

Stop here if you do not want to read any spoilers.

The book had to me a very sad ending.  The US government decides to renege on a deal they made with the Indian tribes that the Black Hills belong to the tribes when they find out there is gold there.  They issue an ultimatum for the tribes to surrender themselves to live on reservations.  Little Wolf and his group refuse.  During the winter, May and many of the other white women end up giving birth to their babies.  It turns out May’s baby is not the daughter of Little Wolf but instead born of the one night she spent with John Bourke.  Eventually the tribes decide it would be best to move to the reservations but are unable to travel in the cold with all the new babies.   Eventually this will be their downfall as their tribe is mistaken for a group of Sioux indians and they are attacked and massacred by the US army which includes John Bourke.  May gets shot in the back and dies hiding in a cave.  Little Wolf’s other two wives manage to sneak away with May’s child and carry her to safety.  Most of the other white women are also killed and all the other babies die either in the attack or from the freezing cold as the army burned all of their belongings.

It was sad to read about the deaths of these women you grow attached to and their innocent babies.  It is so typical of how white men used to colonize and take away the lands and rights of the native peoples all in the name of civilizing them and saving their barbaric souls.  Who really is the barbarian when these soldiers had no qualms about killing innocent women and children some of which were white women sent to live with these Indians by their own government.

Posted in 4 Star Books, Books, Historical Fiction

2 Responses

  1. Teddy

    This book sounds terriffic! I just posted it as a Friday Finds on my blog and included a link to your review of it. Here the link to my post:

  2. dsuzuki

    I hope you enjoy it! It was a good read.

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