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Sarah’s Appeal

December 6, 1879 — Platt’s Hall, San Francisco CA


Before the white people came among us we knew we had white brothers. There was a tradition among our people that our white brothers had been estranged, but that soon we would be reunited. We thought that once, a great while ago, there was in this world a happy family. In I there were two girls and two boys. One girl and one boy were dark, and the others were light. For a time they got along together without quarrelling, but soon they disagreed and there was trouble. They were cross to one another and fought, and their parents were very much grieved. They prayed that their children might learn better, but it did no good. Afterward, the whole household was made so unhappy that the father and the mother saw that they must separate their children, and they took

The Dark Boy and the Dark Girl,

And send them away to one place, and the light boy and the light girl were sent away to another. And their parents saw them no more, and they grieved, though they knew the children were happier. And, by and by, the children grew into two strong nations. And one was dark, and we believed that it was the one we belonged to. And we thought that the nation that had sprung from the light children would soon send some one to meet us, and heal all the old troubles. Finally the white people came, and my grandfather was glad, and he went forth to meet them, for he knew they were our white brothers.

The First Whites

That came among us were a party traveling eastward from California, not coming this way, but when my grandfather went to greet his white brethren they refused to let him welcome them. And they drove him away, and his heart was sad. And he came to us, oh, so grieved! And he said to my people, “Our white brothers will not let us receive them into our country.” But they did not like to give them up, so they followed them to the Humboldt River; but it was no use. Then they said, “Well, next year, they will come back again;” and my grandfather said to his people, “If I die, you must promise me that you will not hurt our white brothers if they come into our country again.” And they promised him. And next year emigrants came through our country, and there was a camp in charge of a man named Johnson. They stayed down at Humboldt Lake. And my grandfather and some of his people called on him, and they shook hands. And when the whites were going back they gave my grandfather a bright tin plate.

Oh, It Was So Bright

And everybody was pleased. Nothing like it was ever seen in our country before. My grandfather thought so much of it that he bored holes in it and fastened it on his head, where he wore it as his hat. He held in it as much admiration as the young ladies of San Francisco do a seal-skin jacket or a diamond ring. Well, after that year, more immigration came, and next spring Captain Fremont, now General Fremont, came, and my grandfather met him, and they were friends. They met just where the railroad crossing at Truckee is now, at the Truckee River. Captain Fremont gave my grandfather the name of Captain Truckee, and he called the river after him. A party of twelve of my people then came to California with Capt. Fremont. They were gone some time; I don’t know just how long.

They Helped Captain Fremont

Fight the Mexicans. When they came back they old us what a beautiful country California was. Only eleven of these returned, one having died on the road home. They spoke to us in the American language, which was very strange to us. Captain Truckee was very proud. They all brought guns. He would sit down with his gun before him, and say, “Goodee gun, goodee, goodee gun; heap shoot, _______ ______!” And they brought some of their soldier clothes, with all their brass buttons, and we were very much astonished to see the clothes they wore. The next year eight or ten families came to live among us. We liked them well and learned to love them. They lived with us peaceably, and we hoped more of our white brothers would come. We were less barbarous then than now.



Source: Daily Alta California, December, 1879, 1, col. 4.


Also: “Another Eloquent Lecture by the Champion of Her Race — A Beautiful Story of the Traditions of her People.” In 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. 102-104.