Wednesday, December 2, 2009

1000 WHITE WOMEN

I am a steady book reader but only on occasion do I get a book I want to pass on. Generally, I enjoy most of what I read but sometimes, I am struck by a really fascinating book. The only other ones I ranted about on my blog were "The Host" and "The Hiding Place." There have been many memorable books I have read but they occurred before I met you so you were spared the details. Below is just a few that have moved me in the past.

Pillars of the Earth-- by Ken Follett-- One of those very long books that you are just so sad to have end. It is 983 pages about a church builder in 12th century England. Sounds like it wouldn't hold you interest for one chapter but it grabs hold and won't let go.

The Last Whales-- by Lloyd Abbey--A difficult read as there is absolutely no dialogue. It sometimes dragged but the story, through the eyes of a whale as the man destroys this world, haunts me today.

Watership Down-- by Richard Adams-- A heroic fantasy novel about a small group of rabbits. For a while, between the covers of that book, you are a rabbit.

All Over But The Shoutin-- by Rick Bragg--A story about his working class (though he refers to them as White Trash) family. This Pulitzer Prize winner is a wonderful writer. He could write cookie recipes and I would rave. He puts words together in a way that startles yet pleases greatly. This man can turn a phrase. Thanks Carol.

But today I am talking about 1000 White Women by Jim Fergus which was recommended by my sister Charlene who rarely steers me wrong on a book. She is not an avid reader like I am, but a selective reader. When Charlene speaks, I listen.



In reality, in 1875, one of the chiefs of a Cheyenne tribe, Little Wolf comes to Washington and suggests to President Grant that peace between the Whites and Cheyenne could be established if the Cheyenne were given 1000 white women as wives. The tribe would agree to raise the children from such unions as a way to integrate the two cultures.


Grant refused the notion but author Jim Fergus takes us on the fictional journey of what might have happened had Grant actually agreed to the strange proposition. Thus his novel of the journals of May Dodd. The book is so well written that it is hard to believe it is not an actual journey through a part of history.

May Dodd is a very young, well to do woman who broke with her parents to live in sin with a man they greatly disapproved of. After her second child, they had her committed to an insane asylum for her actions, though she was not insane.



She learns of the program to send 1000 women volunteers out West to be brides of the Indians. In exchange, after two years spent as a bride and producing a child of the "savages", she will be free to go where she pleases, free of the asylum. May is willing to do anything to get out of the horrors of the insane asylum and signs up.

May keeps a journal about the adjustments she and the first group of women must undergo to live with the so called "savages". If you liked Dances With Wolves, you should like this book also. As with DWW, you will at times be ashamed to be white and if you have some Indian blood like some of my blog buddies, you will find reason to smile but to also be very angry. She sometimes aggravated me, sometimes horrified me, sometimes tickled me but always interested me.

May has a sense of humor and you will enjoy her portrayal of her fellow "brides" and their Indian husbands. The book received mostly raves but also some complete thumbs down. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground. As it is written in journal form, it is an easy, fast paced read.

I feel a loss for a way of life of the American Indian that WE decided was not suitable and through force, altered it beyond recognition. Sadly, we found no way for the two very different cultures to co-exist without severely damaging one. They had what we wanted and we took it-- the land.

Man is always convinced his way is the "only" way and the guy with the most weapons and most force wins. You would think we would have thought of a better way by now. It made me wonder just who was the "savage."


If you have read it , let me know what you thought, and if not I hope you consider giving it a shot. I don't think you will be disappointed.


Thanks Charlene.

27 comments :

  1. Thanks Patti, I will ask my daughter, who works at a library, to get it for me. It interests me, I may have mentioned Pocahontas was a "distant" grandmother :) "Watership Down" is a favorite...I read it years ago, it sits on my shelf with "Wind in the Willows"!

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  2. It looks an interesting book! I haven't read it, but I can imagine how life must have been.
    My Australian daughter was married to an Aboriginal in North Queensland. She has two children by him and even the fact that they are divorced, didn't change her relationship with her ex-in-laws. They accepted her once as family and that's how they still treat her and me too. It's always wonderful to meet them and hear their stories.

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  3. That does sound like an interesting read. I am considering a reader, like Kindle.

    My half sister (biological) is involved in genealogy and has followed our forbears, some of which were interrelated with Cherokees. A couple that were on the Trail of Tears are buried near Searcy AR in a country cemetery.

    One branch of the Trail ran near there. Little is known about their demise. Tuberculosis was especially prevalent and a cause of death to many making the long trip to OK.

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  4. Thanks for the book recommendation...I am always looking for a good book. I never have less than 3 lined up to read and I may move this one to the front of the line.

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  5. Oh, I have got to get this one. I have been thinking about my native american heritage much lately and especially since I went to a local museum a bit ago. thanks for the recommendation. I will put the book on request at the library. My great grandmother was on the trail of tears and they settled in Arkedelphia, Arkansas. We plan on visiting some of my relatives there when we cross the country very soon.

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  6. Wanda,
    That is so cool about your ancestor. I always wished I had Indian blood but I am just 3/4 English and 1/4 Irish.
    So glad you liked Watership Down also.

    Reader Wil
    The thing that impressed me about the Indians in the book was how accepting they were about differences. Sounds like the Aboriginals have the same beliefs.We should all be like that.

    Nitwit,
    I had not known till your post that the Trail of Tears went through Arkansas. That was a very shameful part of our American history. Linda Starr has a similar history.

    Olkhdan,
    I really think you will enjoy this. The premise was facinating but Fergus did some really extensive research.

    Linda Starr,
    You ought to get together with Nitwit1. You might be related. I would have loved to have had an Indian background. How wonderful that you have some reocord.

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  7. Sounds like an interesting read....will see if I Can find it.

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  8. The TRail of Tears had a northern, middle and southern route.

    The middle route ambled and wiggled in tghe vicinity of northern Arkansas border. Gassville had a TRail of Tears museum but the tornado got it. I think artifacts were moved to somewhere in Mtn Home.

    The southern route rambled thru central Arkansas.

    All converged somewhere west of Fort Smith in Oklahoma where the Cherokee reservation is located.

    My half sister goes to lots of genealogy conferences and educates me.

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  9. First your title caught my attention but now your raving reviews are enough for me to go grab my copy immediately!!!!

    Also, thanks for the other book recommendations. I shall get down to it. Presently reading 'Thorn Birds' - you might have read it.

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  10. It seems we never learn and we are continuing right now to "act out" these power needs....The story of the White Man's treatment of The Indians from Day 1, is about as shameful as anything in History...!

    This sounds like a wonderfully interesting book! Thank you my dear, and Thank you Charlene, too!

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  11. I'd like that one, I am sure. Thanks!

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  12. Amanda,
    Hope you can for it really lays bare the poor treatment we gave the people who first occupied this country.

    Nitwit,
    Thanks for the info. I do go to Mountain Home on occasion and will try to find out where it was moved. I would love to visit the museum.

    Lostworld,
    "Thorn Birds" was a wonderful book and was a huge mini series here. The title of "1000" caught my attention also when my sister recommended it.

    OOLOH
    Oh I so agree Naomi. I often wail Rodey Kings lament, "Why can't we all just get alone?" Think we need women running the countries of the world. Couldn't do any worse and at least we don't have the warrior complex.

    kenju,
    Gosh Judy, when do you have time to read? But if you do get an unbusy minute, it is a great escape.

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  13. I will put it on my list to check for it at the library. Sounds like an interesting and thought-provoking book. My kind of read.

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  14. Sounds like a very interesting book.

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  15. I will have to see about that book. It sounds interesting.

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  16. robin,
    It was such an unusual premise and the author obviously had done a lot of research. Hope you enjoy.

    Patty and Abe
    Think you would both like it.

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  17. Hmm sounds interesting and I shall give it a try and let you know.

    Dorothy from grammology
    grammology.com

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  18. Oh, I do love finding a blog I enjoy and THEN discovering she's a book person.

    Icing on the cake.

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  19. Thanks for the recommendation, Patti. I'll add this one to my TBR list.

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  20. Is this a trick to get a right wing wacko to read left wing propaganda book? Or is it really just a good book? You think I am too suspicious? Oops, that is now three questions in one comment, two too many. I'll see if I can track it down, you do seem a bit zealotried (hmmm, I am not sure that's a word)

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  21. You REALLY are an avid reader, aren't you Patti????? How do you like your Kindle?????

    I know who to go to when I want a recommendation on a certain book... THANKS.

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  22. Dorothy,
    Please do let me know, even if you think it was a waste of time though I doubt that.

    MML
    Thank you. Always good to share space with another book lover. Think we pretty much outnumber the others in bloggerville.

    Pat,
    If you are like me there are a lot in your TBR list. Now all we need is the time.

    GQ,
    Zealotried?? Not sure it is a word but perhaps it should be.
    Your being one of my favorite right wing wackos, I know better than trying to convert. You guys just don't budge. I can only say, read at your own risk.

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  23. Betsy,
    Yes I still adore my Kindle. I have found many new books that are offered free from Amazon till they get a following then are slapped with the $9.99 price tag. I feel so happy when I get them for zero dollars.

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  24. WHAT I DON'T NEED is another book in the TBR Stack! However I'm sold so let me get to Amazon! You are welcome! RB is the best!

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  25. Carol,
    Know what you mean by the TBR stack.
    Since I got Kindle, it is overwhelming how many books I have waiting for me. That is more comforting though than looking for a good book.

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  26. Thanks for the book outline, sounds like my kind of read. I'm putting it on my wish list at Amazon, along with my wish for a Kindle. I spent one whole summer reading diaries of women on the Oregon Trail. As hardy as we think we are, we really have not idea.
    I'm thrilled to run into another who likes to read.

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  27. Brighid,
    You are so right about "hardy".I had a great,great aunt who made the trip west on a wagon train. The stories she told when she was in her late nineties convinced me we are a weaker species all together.
    I read "1000" on Kindle. Sure hope someone sees your wish list. You will love a Kindle.

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