It is natural enough that history should be mixed with myth, to make it interesting to the populace. But it is uttery unnatural that history or myth should not be interesting to the populace. — G. K. Chesterton

Sarah Winnemucca

(Toc me to ne)

1841–1891
Civilization: American — Piutes
   Field of Renown:  heroine — translator
Era:  Indian Wars

Sarah Winnemucca
SARAH WINNEMUCCA
Sarah Winnemucca was born the daughter of Chief Winnemucca, but the true influence in her life was her grandfather Truckee, a Paiute Indian who guided the explorer John C. Fremont on his expedition to California and fought in the Mexican-American War. He took Sarah with him to the Sacramento region, where she was education in the home of William Ormsby. Ormsby was later killed during the Paiute War, though Sarahís later autobiography speaks of how her brother unsuccessfully attempted to save the settler by faking his death. After the war, Sarah moved with the Paiute and the neighboring Bannock to the Malheur Reservation, where she taught at the local school and served as interpreter for Indian Agent Samuel Parrish. Parrish established a positive relationship with the Paiute, but after he was replaced by William Rinehart in 1864, conditions at the reservation declined quickly. Rinehart alienated tribal leaders, sold Indian supplies to white buyers, and allowed settlers to illegally purchase reserved land. By 1878, nearly all those living on the reservation had left, and the Bannock began raiding settlements in Oregon and Nevada, triggering the Bannock War. During the war, Sarah worked as a translator on the side of the U.S. Army.

After the conclusion of the war, the Northern Paiute bands were forced into the Yakama Indian Reservation in Washington, where they endured great hardship. Sarah, as a translator, was not required to live with her people, and she instead toured California and Nevada, speaking about the plight of the Paiute. In 1879, she and her father traveled to Washington, D.C., where they gained permission to return to Malheur, but the Yakama Agent refused to let them leave for several years.

While lecturing in California, Sarah met and married Lewis Hopkins, an Indian Department employee. She moved east, continuing to give lectures until 1883, when she published her autobiography, Life Among the Paiutes: Their Wrongs and Claims. Unfortunately, her husbandís tuberculosis and gambling addiction quickly drained the profits from her book. Sarah soon returned to Nevada, where she built a school for Indian children. There she taught until 1887, when the Dawes Severalty Act insisted that Indian children attend English-speaking schools. Her husband passed away that same year, and Sarah lived the last years of her life in quiet solitude until her death in 1891.


Key events during the life of Sarah Winnemucca:


Year
Event
1841
Born.
1860
The Paiute War.
1878
The Bannock War.
1879
Traveled to Washington, D.C.
1891
Died.
1993
Inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame.

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Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
Toc-me-to-ne, an Indian Princess  in  Famous Indian Chiefs I Have Known  by  Oliver Otis Howard

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Image Links


The Princess Sarah, daughter of Chief Winnemucca
 in Famous Indian Chiefs I Have Known


Contemporary
Short Biography
Winnemucca Chief of a Piute tribe. First befriended the white settlers, but rebelled when his tribe was mistreated.
John C. Fremont American explorer who, along with Kit Carson, led an expedition to California by way of Wyoming and Nevada.