Review of ‘Life Among the Piutes’

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The Piute Indians (also known as the Paiutes) lived in what is now Nevada before their first contact with whites. According to Piute legend, Indians and whites were once brothers and sisters, but were separated because they could not get along. So, when they had first contact with whites, Winnemucca, the main chief, saw it as a sign that the siblings were to once again be united. That relationship, however, took a bad turn when it transpired that the white expansion to the west was to displace, and in some instances, destroy, the indigenous culture.

In Life Among the Piutes, Sarah Winnemucca Parker, granddaughter of Winnemucca, tells the history of this first contact, through the forced removal of the Piutes from their ancestral home to reservations along with other tribes, and the many injustices visited upon the peaceful Piutes by greedy Indian agents and unscrupulous land grabbers.

First published in 1883, this was the first known publication by a Native American woman, and it details Sarah’s life and activities, leading her to become an activist on the East Coast for an enlightened Indian policy. Edited by Mrs. Horace Mann, it retains Sarah’s words and speech patterns, making it all the more profound. Rich in detail and unsparing in its descriptions of the privations suffered by Indian tribes in the face of the inexorable onslaught of westward expansion, it is a must-read for anyone who wants to know the true story of our country’s development.

I received a free copy of this recently published e-book version of this ground-breaking work.

I give it five stars.

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