July 15, 2019 by TinyNavajo
One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ◊
*Published February 15, 1999*
**Trigger Warning: Racism**
The blurb for this book just sounded an interesting one. I will not say good, nor bad, just interesting. I’m not sure if this is an actual thing that may have been suggested in history, but it is an interesting idea.
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.
I love books that are told in journal format. They give an insight that other versions don’t give, an insight to what is going on in the thoughts of the characters. May Dodd was incarcerated in a mental institute for living with and having children with a man considered below her class. She is offered freedom should she join up with a government program that is about assimilating the Cheyennes into white society through white wives.
I, myself, am Native American. This book isn’t specifically talking about my tribe, but there are mentions of things done similarly to my tribe as was done the Cheyennes and the characters in this book. All this talk about Native Americans being too similar to animals and a lot of other racist talk made me very uncomfortable. That was probably the point of the story. The way these white characters talked about Native Americans was just nasty, and the way they thought they could make Native Americans better by making them act like them. Just…yuck…
I still liked the story, the thought that this could have been an actual idea brought to the U.S government a slightly disturbing one. It’s one that I could actually see happening. So, if you don’t want to read about the assimilation of Native Americans, then don’t read this book.
What alternative history books do you like to read? What alternative histories do you like to explore? Comment below and let me know!