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Help My People

December 23, 1879 — Dashaway Hall, San Francisco CA


I am appealing to you to

Help My People;

To send teachers and books among us. Educate us. Every one shuns me, and turns a back on me, with contempt. Some say I am a half breed. My father and mother were pure Indians. I would be ashamed to acknowledge that there was white blood in me. The preachers get up in their pulpits and fairly dance before their congregations, and talk about preaching us the Gospel, and convert us. Do they do it? They don’t do no such thing. I want homes for my people, but no one will help us. I call upon white people in their private houses. They will not touch my fingers for fear of getting soiled. That’s the Christianity of white people. Maybe some of you will accompany me to my home and educate my people. They are capable of learning just as well as you are to learn. In 1867, when I was engaged to interpret for my people, there was nothing left them. There was no game, but tame game. [Necessity] made them go and take a cow or steer; just as we would do now, this minute, if deer was a hundred [illegible] away; just as Indians done to feed their little ones and wives.

The Soldiers Are Our Best Friends.

They take care of us. They give us soldiers’ rations, and everything that is necessary. They don’t receive supplies as the Agents do. The soldiers gave us cast off clothing. When I went back to my people, from school, it was quite comical to see men and women dressed in soldiers’ blouses and pants. They thought it was perfectly grand. Rabbits are very nice for furs. My people weaved them into a very large robe to put around us. Your women want to be like ours. The Agent told me we should be provided for. When Winter come we were unprovided for, and our children were shivering. That’s the way your civilisation treats my people. Can you blame my people for saying you care no more for us than the snake that’s curled in the grass? Who first

Invented Scalping.

I want to know. We are both about equal. There is no ground to grumble at each other. You are just as bloodthirsty to kill my people, as my people to kill you. My people think as much of their wives and daughters as you think of yours. The soldiers promised to give me money for carrying despatches, but never gave it. Who got the praise? Not poor Sarah. She have to hide away. My people don’t want Government a penny; only want a piece of land that we can call our own, and make a living for themselves. In that way you can civilize my people. Piles of money and clothing makes my people very lazy. They are willing to work, if you will make way with the Agents. You come and kick our people form all directions, and call yourselves civilized and Christian. My people will learn. They will repeat everything you say to them toward learning. The time is coming, they will be so far ahead of you, you’d be ashamed of yourselves. I don’t know — of course — it’s always woman’s nature that

Their Tongue Have Bound to Run.

I will expose all the rascals. I will save nobody. I will name the paths, the officer, the Agent, and not say I’m afraid to mention his name. I must go away from here, because it costs money to live, and I have none. I would be welcome among the heathens. They would give me wild roots, and fruits, and not say, Pay me. Some of you white people have been very good to me. I love all of you, because you come to hear such a nonsense as comes from a poor Indian woman. The Press has been very kind to me. I am going East. My mouth shall not be sealed appealing for my people, who are naked, shivering, now at this time. I deceived myself greatly when I come here. I thought my own people would come forward and aid me in my endeavor.

I Mean the Methodists.

I am a Methodist, I am. I can get up in the pulpit and give a better sermon than any of them. I am used to interpreting sermons. I am no lecturer. Some enemies go behind my back and say, “Sarah lies.” I despise myself because I had a chance to learn English, and didn’t. Oh! I would say some things. I hope you will not be made at me for speaking harshly of the Agents and the Government. The militaries are our friend. Indian is like my white brother, the Emperor Norton — he like epaulets.



Source: “The Piute Princess.” — “Her Farewell Lecture — She Goes East, with an Imaginary String of Indian Agents’ Scalps.” Daily Alta California, December 24, 1879, 1, col. 5.


Also: The Newspaper Warrior: Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins’s Campaign for American Indian Rights, 1864-1891, ed. Cari M. Carpenter and Carolyn Sorisio (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press), pp. 105-107.