Native American Heritage Month Spotlight Sarah Winnemucca
This month, in celebration of Native American Heritage Month, we will be highlighting some of the many remarkable contributors to Indian country. In no way is this list comprehensive or extensive. For the next few weeks we will present a brief biography a day.
Sarah Winnemucca (1844-1891) was one of the most influential and charismatic American Indian women in her time.
Born near the Humboldt River Sink to a family of Paiute leaders, Sarah dedicated much of her life to working on behalf of all Native people.
During the 1850s Sarah spent time with the Scott family near Santa Cruz, and in 1857 with the Ormsby family in Genoa. It was during this time that Sarah learned to master the English language that would one day enable her to bring the Paiute cause to the nation. Sarah brought the Paiute cause to secretaries of the Interior, army officers, legislators, and senators. She testified before Congress. Sarah appealed to public opinion through interviews, newspaper statements and her many impassioned lectures in theaters, churches, and parlors on both coasts severely criticizing the reservation system.
Sarah wrote the first autobiography by an American Indian Woman titled, “Life among the Paiutes: Their Wrongs and Claims”. In 1885 Sarah started an American Indian School near Lovelock, Nevada. In 2005, a statue of Sarah Winnemucca, representing Nevada, was unveiled in the U.S. Capitol Statuary Hall, Washington D. C. Closer to home, a statue of Sarah can be viewed at the Governor’s office in Carson City, Nevada.
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