Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thousand White Women

When I viewed the Pope Joan book , up popped another book I'd almost forgotten -
...One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd

Talk about books perfect for Deadwood! This is a book people are going to love or hate... It is great for history buffs - but only if they don't get hung up on little things like reality.

Set in 1875, the storyline is based on an agreement between Ulysses S. Grant and Little Wolf, chief of the Cheyenne nation.

Little Wolf brings his men to Washington to make peace, and suggests to President Grant the way to bring peace would be if there could be a bonding between the white man and Native American. His suggestion? 1,000 white women be traded for 1,000 horses. The white women will marry into the tribes, children will be born, peace will be made.

(Evidently there was such a suggestion made, but it was not well received in reality)

In this fictionalized story, Grant thinks this is a keen idea, though he's wise enough to think this should be done in secret. The women to be traded are recruited from prisons, mental institutions, debtors prisons, houses of ill repute in exchange for pardons and promises of freedom after two years of indentured service (after bearing a child or two).

Heroine May Dodd is the child of a wealthy Chicago family who ended up in a mental institution, not because she was insane, but because she fell in love with a poor man, ran off with him and bore his children out of wedlock. Her own father snatched her back and threw her into the insane asylum.

May marries chief Little Wolf (of course) and lives in a tipi with two of his other wives and their children. She writes about life among the Cheyenne, where some of the new women show up the braves in some of their sports (i.e. arm-wrestling, foot-racing, bow and arrow shooting, etc.)

There are savage experiences with alcohol, with other tribes, the winter, the calvary attacking by mistake.

It isn't a story filled with happiness and there's not a happy ending for all. But it is an enjoyable read, one that might offer some good role-playing ideas, even in a sim where Native Americans aren't, as of this writing, allowed unless they are "civilized".

I swear I've heard of similar backgrounds from some of our women folk as they've stepped off the stagecoach into Deadwood!

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