Mary Dodd is a young white woman, living in Chicago in the 1870s. To her very rich and powerful father's dismay, she moves out of his house to live with Harry Ames, one of his employees, whom her family considers beneath her. They have two children together out of wedlock. Her father has her committed to a mental institution becuase of what one of her doctors describes as her promiscuity. Throughout the book, she will wonder if Ames was in on her commitment or not. She is also always deeply concerned about the children she's been separated (she assumes they've been taken to live with her family).
In order to escape the lunatic asylum, Mary becomes part of a very unusual government program. The government is recruiting one thousand white women to go out west and marry and become pregnant by Native Americans, members of the Northern Cheyenne group. A Cheyenne leader has suggested this as a means of assimilating his tribe into white society (the Cheyenne society is matrilineal).
Dodd and a small group of other recruits - including a mute, a spinster nurse, a English naturalist who foregoes skirts in favor or trousers, a stuckup Southern belle who goes nowhere without her small dog, a feisty black woman who escaped slavery via the underground railroad, a huge Swiss woman whose face resembles a potato, and a pair of lusty Irish twins - go west via train to Fort Laramie. There Mary Dodd has a brief but meaningful fling with an army officer. Nevertheless, she goes on with the other women to join the Cheyenne tribe, marrying their chief, Little Wolf. (She's his third wife.) She and her white friends gradually begin to live as Native Americans. By the end of the book, Mary Dodd has had her baby, but conflict has begun to arise between the Cheyenne and the U.S. Army.
This report prepared by Ann Gaines
May is a headstrong daughter of a wealthy but controlling society family in Chicago in the 1800's. When May runs away from home to to be with her impoverished lover and bear his two children, May's family tracks her down and commits her to a mental institution. After several years of languishing in an asylum, May is offered the chance of escape, provided that she join a government program to marry a group of white women to Native Americans. Viewing life as a challenge, May approaches the journey as an explorer, and is seduced by an Army Captain and an Indian Chief. Although May basically likes living with the tribe, she is also the victim of rape by warring groups and witnesses murders as well.
This report prepared by Holly H