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One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

One Thousand White Women (1998)

by Jim Fergus

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I found this to be a somewhat entertaining read. This is the type of book which is perfect for a book club – it isn’t very deep or hard to read, may serve as an infrequent reader’s introduction to the subject, but leads more serious readers to other books on the subject. (For example John G. Bourke was a real historical figure and his many books and diaries are available, including On the Border With Crook).

That being said…. the characters were clichéd, the plot was predictable, and at NO time did I believe this was written by a woman of the period. Snark Alert! May was the worst kind of Mary Sue (Google it). Now I remember why I couldn’t remember anything about this book - I first read it not long after it was published in the 1990s.

For a much better fictional romp through the Cheyenne Nation, read Little Big Man by Thomas Berger… or watch the movie.
( )
  memccauley6 | May 3, 2016 |
At a peace conference at Fort Laramie in 1854, a prominent Cheyenne chief suggest that the US Government send white women to the West to be brides for his warriors. As children born in their tribe follow the mother's lineage, such unions would lead to an easing of the native assimilation into white man's society. The idea was never seriously considered but in this novel it is. Certain historical events and characters do play a part in the narrative but this a piece of fiction.

The author did extensive research into the culture and life style of the Cheyenne tribe and other Indian tribes with whom they may have contact. One of the main characters in the novel is John G. Bourke who was a real US Army officer during the time period of the novel. The book he wrote about his time with General Crook appears in the bibliography.

May Dodd is the main character in the story and a very strong woman is she. Sent to a mental institution by her family for living with a man below her station out of wedlock, she volunteers for the marriage to Indians program to get her freedom. On the way west, she meets and falls in love with John Bourke. As he is engaged to another and she is committed to the Indian program she follows through to the Cheyenne encampment.

Life among the Indians proves to be tough but most of the women persevere and actually develop affection and even love for their husbands and the women of the tribe. The reader learns much about the life of the Plains Indian. Some of the war actions of the Indians may be upsetting to the reader but none can match what the US Army did to them in order move them to the reservations.

Apparently many readers believe this to be a real journal. It is not. ( )
  lamour | Apr 24, 2016 |
Started out better than it ended. But it was interesting. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
I had some moments of pure rage when the narrator implied the natives were the more barbaric, though the narrative later suggested that atrocities were committed on both sides. The ideas were unique and interesting, but I felt the book, despite the setting, offered a very limit perspectives on anything other than white culture. ( )
  LaPhenix | Apr 7, 2016 |
Interesting book from beginning to end. The life of a woman accused of promiscuity because she had 2 children out of wedlock and comes from a well to do family iis put in an insane asylum . Her chance for escape comes in the form of an offer to go along with 1000 other white women to marry and assimilate with the indians and teach them the ways of the white man. The lies by the American government and the way these women are manipulated by the government is true to form for that era. There live as squaws is almost unbelievable but history tells us it was true. The author writes as if the story was written in a diary. ( )
  joannemonck | Feb 28, 2016 |
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Women will love her, that she is a woman

More worth than any man; men that she is
The rarest of all women.

- William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale, V.1
To Dillon
First words
23 March 1875: Today is my birthday, and I have received the greatest gift of all - freedom!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
One Thousand White Women begins with May Dodd's journey west into the unknown. A government program, in which woman are brought west as brides for the Cheyenne, is her vehicle. What follows is the story of May's adventures: her marriage to Little Wolf, chief of the Cheyenne nation, and her conflict of being caught between two worlds, loving two men, living two lives. Jim Fergus has so vividly depicted the American West that it is as if these diaries are a capsule in time.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312199430, Paperback)

One Thousand White Women is the story of May Dodd and a colorful assembly of pioneer women who, under the auspices of the U.S. government, travel to the western prairies in 1875 to intermarry among the Cheyenne Indians. The covert and controversial "Brides for Indians" program, launched by the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, is intended to help assimilate the Indians into the white man's world. Toward that end May and her friends embark upon the adventure of their lifetime. Jim Fergus has so vividly depicted the American West that it is as if these diaries are a capsule in time.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:32 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

An Indian request in 1854 for 1,000 white brides to ensure peace is secretly approved by the U.S. government in this alternate-history novel. Their journey west is described by May Dodd, a high-society woman released from an asylum where she was incarcerated by her family for an affair.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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