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On the Treatment of the Indians

May 2, 1883 — Hotel Winthrop Parlor, Boston MA


We are told to love one another. It is no new thing for Indians to love one another. They are taught to do that when little children in their wigwams. They don’t kill for pleasure. They only kill when forced to do so in self-defense when they have been outraged. Had slaughtering white people been a pleasure, how easily they might have massacred the white people when they first landed on these shores, or how easily the Paiutes might have killed the white settlers when they first came among them in the long ago.

You know not what Indian agents and white men do in the far West. How they steal the Indian land; how they deprive them of the government supplies: how they ruthlessly tear the babe from the mother’s breast; how they insult the virtue of the Indian girls, and virtue is as precious as jewels among the Paiutes as here in Boston. For these outrages the Indians take up arms and never an Indian raid was made but what was brought about by such causes as these.

I can tell you the sad truth about the Indian agents. I can tell you how few of the government supplies reach the Indians; how one little blanket was provided to shelter a family of six from the cold; how three blankets were supposed to be enough for fifteen Indians, when each of them should by right have had one; how indeed they often have to buy the very supplies that the government has promised to give them in exchange for their lands.

I have asked the agents why they did these wrong things. They have told me it was necessary for them to do so in order to get money enough to send the Great Father at Washington to keep their position. I assure you that there is an Indian right; that it is a corrupt ring and that it has its head and shoulders in the treasury of Washington. But yet we know there are good men and women among the white people. We call you brothers despite all the wrong that is done, for you are our brothers according to our tradition.

The first parent of us all, says the legend, had both white and red children. They did not agree together so the father separated them and placed a great ocean between. He said that some day they should be united. And this is why we believe you are our brothers. We hope our true friends will aid us and stand by us in our trouble.



Source: Winnemucca, Sarah. “On the Treatment of the Indians.” The Peacemaker and Court of Arbitration 1, no. 1 (July 1882), p.188.