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ERIC Number: EJ990038
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 31
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0095-182X
Gender, Literacy, and Sovereignty in Winnemucca's "Life among the Piutes"
Sneider, Leah
American Indian Quarterly, v36 n3 p257-287 Sum 2012
Arming themselves with "manifest destiny" rhetoric, which claimed divine Anglo-Saxon superiority as justification for the conquest of Indigenous and Mexican peoples and the land they occupied, white settlers forcefully pushed into California territory. The two-year-long Mexican-American War resulted in the acquisition of the present-day states of California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. However, Native tribes and landed Mexicans continued to stand in the way of not only "civilized progress" but the vast riches that gold and the California soil offered the ever-growing numbers of US citizens. Relationships with the Paiute Nation became key to movement into the area as their lands stood directly in the path of settlers and miners moving toward California through the Sierra Nevada. Paiutes were subject to various methods of removal and attempts at assimilating or civilizing the Indian, then became wards of the state through the Indian Appropriation Act of 1871. Daughter to the chief, Sarah Winnemucca witnessed and engaged in her tribe's struggles to remain in their ancestral lands and maintain sovereignty while attempting to build balanced relationships with their white relatives according to her cultural traditions. Her "Life among the Piutes, Their Wrongs and Claims" (1883) is the first autobiographical account written by a Native woman and reveals valuable information regarding this history and conflict. However, her autobiography focuses less on her life and more on the trials and tribulations of her tribe's relationship with the United States. In this article, the author explores how Winnemucca's choice in formal structure complements her content. The author first looks at the impact that traditional stories and history have on Winnemucca's developing literacy of language, ideology, and culture as well as Winnemucca's own identity as a Paiute leader. She then looks at how Winnemucca acknowledges both Paiute male and female experiences with colonial gender violence and parallel Christian moral discourse and how Winnemucca responds to these experiences through her textual performance of gender and Indigenous feminism that reinforces Paiute cultural and political sovereignty. (Contains 40 notes.)
University of Nebraska Press. 1111 Lincoln Mall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0630. Tel: 800-755-1105; Fax: 800-526-2617; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California; Mexico