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Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins
while lecturing in Boston
The Bannock war in 1878 proved disastrous for the Winnemucca band. Although only a minority was involved in the uprising, and most fought against it, the entire band was relocated during winter to the Yakima Reservation, Washington state. The Indian Agent there kept food and clothing intended for them.
The Winnemucca people approached Sarah during this period asking for her to travel to Washington, D.C. and appeal for their rights. In 1880 she went to Washington and spoke with Secretary of the Interior Charles Schurz and President Rutherford Hayes. Their promises were soon forgotten, but on subsequent travels in 1883 and 1884, Sarah gave over 300 lectures in the Eastern U.S. With encouragement of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Massachusetts senator Henry Dawes, and Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, she wrote this autobiography. IT was the first book written in English by a Native American woman. Although Sarah was a better public speaker than writer, the words are still forceful and are more readable than the stilted prose then popular in the Victorian era. Her lectures helped increase awareness and sympathy for the plight of Native Americans.
In 1884, Sarah Winnemucca opened and ran a Northern Paiute school near Lovelock, Nevada, using royalties from this book and donations. However, she ran out of money and was never able to get Federal funding. Her husband, Lewis Hopkins, died of tuberculosis October 18, 1887. His disease and gambling left her with little money. After his death, and sick herself, she went to live with her sister Elma. Sarah died October 16, 1891 at her sister’s home near Henry’s Lake, Idaho.
Sarah Winnemucca statue
by Benjamin Victor, 2005
Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins “Thocmentony” (1844?-1891), Life among the Piutes: their Wrongs and Claims (self-published, 1883), Edited by Mrs. Horace Mann (Mary Peabody Mann), sister of educator Elizabeth Peabody and wife of educator Horace Mann. LCCN 02018431. 268 pages. 19 cm. Brown, green, red, or blue cloth with black Greek key ornamental border on top and bottom of front cover and spine; title stamped in gilt. Gilt lettering on spine. Graff 1950; Paher 888; Rader 1927; Smith 4618. Library of Congress call number E99.P2 H7.
Available on microfilm produced by Research Publications: Western Americana (1975), reel 268, no. 2656 and History of Women (1976), reel 455, no. 3374.
Digitized by Dan Anderson, December 2005.
These files may be used for any non-commercial purpose,
provided this notice is left intact.
—Dan Anderson, www.yosemite.ca.us
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