A Recital of Wrongs
November 25, 1879 — Platt’s Hall, San Francisco CA
At that time, there were only four families in our region of the country. We loved them as we would our brothers. If we were so barbarous what was to prevent us from killing them? One day, there were two little girls missing from our tribe. Search was made for them. They could not be found. They had been taken into the house of two white brothers who promised them something to eat. They were timid at first, and did not want to go. But afterward they did and were kept and put down a cellar. When the Indians looked for them they came to this house, and when they saw the ring of the trap door that led to the cellar they did not think anything wrong, because they did not understand how the white men could make a cellar in the ground. The firth day an Indian came along on a fine horse. The brothers wanted to buy it, and offered him a gun, five cans of powder, leads and caps. He said he would exchange, and they put the horse in the stable and locked it. Then they gave the Indian the gun and some powder, but wouldn’t give him any lead or caps. They he began to holler, and the little girls in the cellar, hearing him holler, hollered too. He knew then that the girls were there. He told his tribe and they said, ‘Give up the girls or we will kill you.’ The brothers said they did not know where the girls were, but the Indians knocked them down, and found the opening in the floor. They opened the trap-door and found the poor little girls, with their mouths all tied up so they could not speak.
This Started the Trouble of 1860.
Soldiers came, and the Indians had to fight the white men. I have come here to lay down the facts, good or bad, in behalf of my people. But people say of the Indians, “Exterminate them! exterminate them!” My friends, they would not say this of the Chinamen or the negro. When the soldiers came, all was trouble. There was one good man named Clayton, who came among us, and brought goods and beads and handkerchiefs. We learned to love that man. When the fighting commenced he said to my brother, Natchez, “Be merciful unto me, Natchez; save my life.” My brother said: It is almost too late. But I will fire over your head and you can roll down the hill, and the Indians will think you are dead.” But he was too late, and the Indians killed Clayton. He taught us English. He did roll down the hill, and his bones lie there rotting. After that the regular soldiers, the troops, came and told us to lay down our arms. I was a little bit of a girl then. They told us to go on the Reservation and the Government would give us provisions every day. Did they do it? No — they didn’t. The agents robbed us. Just as long as an agent can keep my people down, he will do it — just as long as the world stands. But how can I teach my people to be good? Say to them, You must be good, and must not condemn the whole white race because they do wrong to a few of your women. Sometimes you kill innocent people. I tell them they must not lie and steal, and must love their neighbors as yourself. And they say: “Who are our neighbors, the people next to us, or around us?’ And I say, ‘No, the whole human family are our neighbors.’ But the white men will not look on us as neighbors. Then what are we? We have hands and a face, only it is red instead of white. If they could only know our feelings, my friends, they would call us their neighbors. In 1878 Mr. Grannis came to preach a sermon, and I interpreted it. He said, “If you are not good you will
Go to a Place Called Hell.
‘If you are good, and do not lie and steal and commit adultery, you will go to heaven.’
And one of our men interrupted him and turned to Rinehart, the agent, and said, ‘You say to be good and we will go to heaven. Mr. Rinehart, where will you go? You claim to be Christian man. You kneel and uplift your hands and the tears roll down your face. Who do you pray to? We are Indians, and do not understand. We have eyes, but you think us blind. You hold out your left hand and pray for us, and your right hand is grabbing something else. Mr. Rinehart is a good man, probably. I think he is a good man. The biggest thief, whether a man or a woman, is good if wealthy. With the jingle in his pocket and plenty in his hand, he lives away up, socially. Rinehart despised my people in many ways. He told them that their lands belonged to the Government, but if they would cultivate it, the Government would pay the one dollar a day, whether child, or woman, or man. About 400 Indians went to work, and Saturday night took in their bills. He would not pay them, but said, ‘The Government has not sent me the money yet. But you can have goods out of my store. Pants are $3; blankets, $6, shirts, $1.50 to $3; stockings, four bits, and shoes [illegible] and $3. You can buy them here or at the Government store in Canon City, but at no other store.
My People Hung Their Heads.
And were not pleased. Rinehart beat my people. He first would strike and beat them, and afterward carried a pistol to frighten them. Is this the way to treat my people, I would like to know? He sends us sub-agents to gather in Indians on his Reservation, but they know his bad reputation and won’t come. He has not an Indian on his Reservation now. He need[s] to say there were no appropriations for the Indians, and he could not afford to feed them out of his own pocket. I wonder where the money comes from now that there are no Indians.”
Source: “Princess Sarah” — “Her Lecture on Indians” at Platt’s Hall, Last Night. A Recital of Wrongs by Indian Agents — The Cause of the Outbreak in 1869.” Daily Alta California, November 26, 1879, 1, col. 3.
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. 91-94.