Saturday, October 29, 2011

One Thousand White Women

Fact: In the mid-1870s, Cheyenne Chief Little Wolf approached President Grant with a rather odd request.  The Cheyenne (called "The People" in the book) wanted 1,000 white women in exchange for giving the US Government 1,000 horses.  The reason?  The People held the belief that children belong to the tribe of their mother, and if these white women would bear bi-racial children, these children would help to bring peace between the whites and The People, as they would belong to the "white tribe."  There is no evidence this request was ever granted.
Jim Fergus's One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd imagines the Brides for Indians program became a reality.  The story is told through the journals of one of the brides, May Dodd.  May's upper crust Chicago family had institutionalized her for the crime of falling in love with someone "below her station" and giving birth to two children out of wedlock.  Rather that stay incarcerated, May agrees to join the trek west to become an Indian bride. 
The book is incredibly well written, and the characters quite well developed.  Fergus did an incredible amount of research to make the story as accurate as possible.  I am still livid from the actions of the US Government in regards to The People, all of which were reported accurately in the book.  Treaties were broken regularly, as the white settlers wanted protection while on land given by the Government to the Cheyenne and Sioux tribes, including the Black Hills where gold was discovered. 
Very thought provoking and an excellent read.  Come December 31st, I have no doubt this book will make my top 10 list for 2011!

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