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

One Thousand White Women: the Journals of May Dodd

One of my patrons called me to discuss One Thousand White Women: the Journal of May Dodd by Jim Fergus. (RC 47157) This is a fictionalized account of a true incident in which an Indian delegation traveled to Washington, D.C. to negotiate a treaty.

One of the Indians was a Cheyenne leader named Little Wolf. As part of the negotiations, Little Wolf requested that his tribe be supplied with 1,000 white women, in an effort to assist in the assimilation of the Cheyenne peoples with the white man. Predictably, the request was met with derision and horror. 

In this alternate history novel, the U.S. government complied with the request and sent the tribes 1000 white women. Many of women sent were patients that they got from mental institutes, prostitutes, or other “undesirables”. The journals follow their efforts to survive and adapt to the Indian culture.  Some of the women fell in love with their Indian partner and some didn’t.

My patron and I discussed the fact that women mental patients in the past were sometime women that didn’t fit the definition of normal.  Sometime they were women who were fiercely independent and preferred to run a business or own land to getting married. Some stood in the way of their male family members taking over the family business and were sent away as mentally ill in order to clear the way for the male sibling's takeover.

Unfortunately, NLS only offers this book in a cassette form at this time, so only patrons with a cassette player can enjoy this book.  I am hoping that in the future NLS will copy this book to a digital format.