Friday, December 2, 2022

May and Chance The Incredible Destiny of May Dodd

For those who had the chance to read the Jim Fergus' novel "One Thousand White Women" (story based on real events), I highly recommend to read the last novel that closes this trilogy, "May and Chance The Incredible Destiny of May Dodd".  In this last volume, Jim Fergus brings us once again in contact with the Cheyennes tribes and one of their leader, Chief Little Wolf. 

Almost unknown in the United States, Jim Fergus is not the only American writer to be more successful in France than in the United States (even if One Thousand White Women has sold almost a million copies all editions combined). Best-selling author Douglas Kennedy, writer James Ellroy who admits "selling six times more books in France than in the United States" or even Jim Harrison, who died last March, are in the same situation.

Jim Fergus

This gave me the opportunity to immerse myself once again in historical facts.

After the Battle of Little Bighorn (1876), attempts by the United States Army to capture the Cheyenne intensified. A group of 972 Cheyenne were deported to the Indian Territories of Oklahoma in 1877. The living conditions there were terrible, the Northern Cheyenne being unaccustomed to the climate, and soon many were stricken with malaria. In 1878, the two main chiefs, Little Wolf and Morning Star (Dull Knife), demanded the release of the Cheyenne so that they could return north. In the same year, a group of about 350 Cheyenne left the Indian Territories in a northerly direction, led by these two chiefs. Army soldiers and civilian volunteers, whose total number is estimated at 13,000, were quickly in pursuit. The gang quickly split into two groups. The group led by Little Wolf returned to Montana. Morning Star's gang was captured and escorted to Fort Robinson, Nebraska, where they were held. They were ordered to return to Oklahoma, which they promptly and firmly refused. Conditions grew increasingly harsh by the end of 1878, and soon the Cheyenne were confined to their quarters, without food, water, or heat.

Chief Little Wolf (left) and Chief Morning Star

In January 1879, Morning Star and his companions escaped from Fort Robinson. Most were shot while fleeing the fort. The number of survivors is estimated at 50, who joined the other Northern Cheyenne in Montana. Through their determination and sacrifice, the Northern Cheyenne won the right to dwell in the North near the Black Hills. In 1884, by executive order, a reservation for the Northern Cheyenne was established in southeastern Montana. This reservation was extended in 1890, to stretch from the Crow Reservation in the west to the Tongue River in the east. 

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