American society that was crucial to nineteenth-century reforms and still resonates powerfully today.
Prior to the publication of her book, Sarah was under critical attack from the press for her frank criticism of governmental policies in regard to the Indians. As she wrote, "My reputation has been assailed, and it is done so cunningly that I cannot prove it to be unjust" ( Canfield 206). Elizabeth Peabody, who privately published her work Life among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims, hoped it would act to garner support for Sarah's cause, show her to be virtuous and honest, and finally influence the Indian policies under consideration by the Congress. In fact, in an effort to boost the book's reputation, she wrote to the editor of the Boston Daily Advertiser, "I heard that there was an unfavorable notice of Sarah Winnemucca's book in the Advertiser when it first came out. . . . I want the Daily Advertiser to recognize her and her cause--and think you will agree" ( Peabody415).
Sarah's reputation was not primarily literary--she was known more for her lectures and political influence than for her writing. Her book was sold for $1 per copy in the lecture halls and homes where she spoke and through the mail. All profits helped defray the cost of the lecture tour and provided income for the Hopkins. Though the book was popular among reformists who heard Sarah speak ( John Greenleaf Whittier and Mrs. Ralph Waldo Emerson each purchased $10 worth), the book apparently received little attention in the literary press.
Howard, Oliver O. My Life and Experiences among Our Hostile Indians. Hartford, CT: A. T. Worthington & Co., 1907. Reprint, New York: Da Capo Press, 1972.
Peabody, Elizabeth Palmer. Letters of Elizabeth Palmer Peabody: American Renaissance Woman. Edited by Bruce A. Ronda. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1984.
"The Pah-Utes." The Californian 6 ( 1882): 252-256.
Life among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims. Edited by Mary Mann. Boston, 1883. Reprint, Bishop, CA: Chalfant Press, Inc., 1969.
Brimlow, George F. "The Life of Sarah Winnemucca: The Formative Years." Oregon Historical Quarterly ( 2 June 1952): 103-134.