Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims

Chapter I: First Meeting of Piutes and Whites

I WAS BORN somewhere near 1844, but am not sure of the precise time. I was a very small child when the first white people came into our country. They came like a lion, yes, like a roaring lion, and have continued so ever since, and I have never forgotten their first coming. My people were scattered at that time over nearly all the territory now known as Nevada. My grandfather was chief of the entire Piute nation, and was camped near Humboldt Lake, with a small portion of his tribe, when a party travelling eastward from California was seen coming. When the news was brought to my grandfather, he asked what they looked like? When told that they had hair on their faces, and were white, he jumped up and clasped his hands together, and cried aloud, –

“My white brothers, – my long-looked for white brothers have come at last!”

He immediately gathered some of his leading men, and went to the place where the party had gone into camp. Arriving near them, he was commanded to halt in a manner that was readily understood without an interpreter. Grandpa at once made signs of friendship by throwing down his robe and throwing up his arms to show them he had no weapons; but in vain, – they kept him at a distance. He knew not what to do. He had expected so much pleasure in welcoming his white brothers to the best in the land, that after looking at them sorrowfully for a little while, he came away quite unhappy. But he would not give them up so easily. He took some of his most trustworthy men and followed them day after day, camping near them at night, and travelling in sight of them by day, hoping in this way to gain their confidence. But he was disappointed, poor dear old soul!

I can imagine his feelings, for I have drank deeply from the same cup. When I think of my past life, and the bitter trials I have endured, I can scarcely believe I live, and yet I do; and, with the help of Him who notes the sparrow’s fall, I mean to fight for my down-trodden race while life lasts.

Seeing they would not trust him, my grandfather left them, saying, “Perhaps they will come again next year.” Then he summoned his whole people, and told them this tradition:–

“In the beginning of the world there were only four, two girls and two boys. Our forefather and mother were only two, and we are their children. You all know that a great while ago there was a happy family in this world. One girl and one boy were dark and the others were white. 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 our parents were very much grieved. They prayed that their children might learn better, but it did not do any good; and afterwards the whole household was made so unhappy that the father and mother saw that they must separate their children; and then our father took the dark boy and girl, and the white boy and girl, and asked them, Why are you so cruel to each other? ‘They hung down their heads, and would not speak. They were ashamed. He said to them, ‘Have I not been kind to you all, and given you everything your hearts wished for? You do not have to hunt and kill your own game to live upon. You see, my dear children, I have power to call whatsoever kind of game we want to eat; and I also have the power to separate my dear children, if they are not good to each other.’ So he separated his children by a word. He said, ‘Depart from each other, you cruel children; – go across the mighty ocean and do not seek each other’s lives.’

“So the light girl and boy disappeared by that one word, and their parents saw them no more, and they were grieved, although they knew their children were happy. And by-and-by the dark children grew into a large nation; and we believe it is the one we belong to, and that the nation that sprung from the white children will some time send some one to meet us and heal all the old trouble. Now, the white people we saw a few days ago must certainly be our white brothers, and I want to welcome them. I want to love them as I love all of you. But they would not let me; they were afraid. But they will come again, and I want you one and all to promise that, should I not live to welcome them myself, you will not hurt a hair on their heads, but welcome them as I tried to do.”

How good of him to try and heal the wound, and how vain were his efforts! My people had never seen a white man, and yet they existed, and were a strong race. The people promised as he wished, and they all went back to their work.

The next year came a great emigration, and camped near Humboldt Lake. The name of the man in charge of the trains was Captain Johnson, and they stayed three days to rest their horses, as they had a long journey before them without water. During their stay my grandfather and some of his people called upon them, and they all shook hands, and when our white brothers were going away they gave my grandfather a white tin plate. Oh, what a time they had over that beautiful gift, – it was so bright! They say that after they left, my grandfather called for all his people to come together, and he then showed them the beautiful gift which he had received from his white brothers. Everybody was so 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, and wore it as his hat. He held it in as much admiration as my white sisters hold their diamond rings or a sealskin jacket. So that winter they talked of nothing but their white brothers. The following spring there came great news down the Humboldt River, saying that there were some more of the white brothers coming, and there was something among them that was burning all in a blaze. My grandfather asked them what it was like. They told him it looked like a man; it had legs and hands and a head, but the head had quit burning, and it was left quite black. There was the greatest excitement among my people everywhere about the men in a blazing fire. They were excited because they did not know there were any people in the world but the two, – that is, the Indians and the whites; they thought that was all of us in the beginning of the world, and, of course, we did not know where the others had come from, and we don’t know yet. Ha! ha! oh, what a laughable thing that was! It was two negroes wearing red shirts!

The third year more emigrants came, and that summer Captain Fremont, who is now General Fremont.

My grandfather met him, and they were soon friends. They met just where the railroad crosses Truckee River, now called Wadsworth, Nevada. Captain Fremont gave my grandfather the name of Captain Truckee, and he also called the river after him. Truckee is an Indian word, it means all right, or very well. A party of twelve of my people went to California with Captain Fremont. I do not know just how long they were gone.

During the time my grandfather was away in California, where he staid till after the Mexican war, there was a girl-baby born in our family. I can just remember it. It must have been in spring, because everything was green. I was away playing with some other children when my mother called me to come to her. So I ran to her. She then asked me to sit down, which I did. She then handed me some beautiful beads, and asked me if I would like to buy something with them. I said:–

“Yes, mother, – some pine nuts.”

My mother said:–

“Would you like something else you can love and play with? Would you like to have a little sister?” I said, –

“Yes, dear mother, a little, little sister; not like my sister Mary, for she won’t let me play with her. She leaves me and goes with big girls to play;” and then my mother wanted to know if I would give my pretty beads for the little sister.

Just then the baby let out such a cry it frightened me; and I jumped up and cried so that my mother took me in her arms, and said it was a little sister for me, and not to be afraid. This is all I can remember about it.

When my grandfather went to California he helped Captain Fremont fight the Mexicans. When he came back he told the people what a beautiful country California was. Only eleven returned home, one having died on the way back.

They spoke to their people in the English language, which was very strange to them all.

Captain Truckee, my grandfather, was very proud of it, indeed. They all brought guns with them. My grandfather would sit down with us for hours, and would say over and over again, “Goodee gun, goodee, goodee gun, heap shoot.” They also brought some of the soldiers’ clothes with all their brass buttons, and my people were very much astonished to see the clothes, and all that time they were peaceable toward their white brothers. They had learned to love them, and they hoped more of them would come. Then my people were less barbarous than they are nowadays.

That same fall, after my grandfather came home, he told my father to take charge of his people and hold the tribe, as he was going back to California with as many of his people as he could get to go with him. So my father took his place as Chief of the Piutes, and had it as long as he lived. Then my grandfather started back to California again with about thirty families. That same fall, very late, the emigrants kept coming. It was this time that our white brothers first came amongst us. They could not get over the mountains, so they had to live with us. It was on Carson River, where the great Carson City stands now. You call my people bloodseeking. My people did not seek to kill them, nor did they steal their horses, – no, no, far from it. During the winter my people helped them. They gave them such as they had to eat. They did not hold out their hands and say:–

“You can’t have anything to eat unless you pay me.” No, – no such word was used by us savages at that time; and the persons I am speaking of are living yet; they could speak for us if they choose to do so.

The following spring, before my grandfather returned home, there was a great excitement among my people on account of fearful news coming from different tribes, that the people whom they called their white brothers were killing everybody that came in their way, and all the Indian tribes had gone into the mountains to save their lives. So my father told all his people to go into the mountains and hunt and lay up food for the coming winter. Then we all went into the mountains. There was a fearful story they told us children. Our mothers told us that the whites were killing everybody and eating them. So we were all afraid of them. Every dust that we could see blowing in the valleys we would say it was the white people. In the late fall my father told his people to go to the rivers and fish, and we all went to Humboldt River, and the women went to work gathering wild seed, which they grind between the rocks. The stones are round, big enough to hold in the hands. The women did this when they got back, and when they had gathered all they could they put it in one place and covered it with grass, and then over the grass mud. After it is covered it looks like an Indian wigwam.

Oh, what a fright we all got one morning to hear some white people were coming. Every one ran as best they could. My poor mother was left with my little sister and me. Oh, I never can forget it. My poor mother was carrying my little sister on her back, and trying to make me run; but I was so frightened I could not move my feet, and while my poor mother was trying to get me along my aunt overtook us, and she said to my mother: “Let us bury our girls, or we shall all be killed and eaten up.” So they went to work and buried us, and told us if we heard any noise not to cry out, for if we did they would surely kill us and eat us. So our mothers buried me and my cousin, planted sage bushes over our faces to keep the sun from burning them, and there we were left all day.

Oh, can any one imagine my feelings buried alive, thinking every minute that I was to be unburied and eaten up by the people that my grandfather loved so much? With my heart throbbing, and not daring to breathe, we lay there all day. It seemed that the night would never come. Thanks be to God! the night came at last. Oh, how I cried and said: “Oh, father, have you forgotten me? Are you never coming for me?” I cried so I thought my very heartstrings would break.

At last we heard some whispering. We did not dare to whisper to each other, so we lay still. I could hear their footsteps coming nearer and nearer. I thought my heart was coming right out of my mouth. Then I heard my mother say, “‘T is right here!” Oh, can any one in this world ever imagine what were my feelings when I was dug up by my poor mother and father? My cousin and I were once more happy in our mothers’ and fathers’ care, and we were taken to where all the rest were.

I was once buried alive; but my second burial shall be for ever, where no father or mother will come and dig me up. It shall not be with throbbing heart that I shall listen for coming footsteps. I shall be in the sweet rest of peace, – I, the chieftain’s weary daughter.

Well, while we were in the mountains hiding, the people that my grandfather called our white brothers came along to where our winter supplies were. They set everything we had left on fire. It was a fearful sight. It was all we had for the winter, and it was all burnt during that night. My father took some of his men during the night to try and save some of it, but they could not; it had burnt down before they got there.

These were the last white men that came along that fall. My people talked fearfully that winter about those they called our white brothers. My people said they had something like awful thunder and lightning, and with that they killed everything that came in their way.

This whole band of white people perished in the mountains, for it was too late to cross them. We could have saved them, only my people were afraid of them. We never knew who they were, or where they came from. So, poor things, they must have suffered fearfully, for they all starved there. The snow was too deep.

Early in the following spring, my father told all his people to go to the mountains, for there would be a great emigration that summer. He told them he had had a wonderful dream, and wanted to tell them all about it.

He said, “Within ten days come together at the sink of Carson, and I will tell you my dream.”

The sub-chiefs went everywhere to tell their people what my father had told them to say; and when the time came we all went to the sink of Carson.

Just about noon, while we were on the way, a great many of our men came to meet us, all on their horses. Oh, what a beautiful song they sang for my father as they came near us! We passed them, and they followed us, and as we came near to the encampment, every man, woman, and child were out looking for us. They had a place all ready for us. Oh, how happy everybody was! One could hear laughter everywhere, and songs were sung by happy women and children.

My father stood up and told his people to be merry and happy for five days. It is a rule among our people always to have five days to settle anything. My father told them to dance at night, and that the men should hunt rabbits and fish, and some were to have games of football, or any kind of sport or playthings they wished, and the women could do the same, as they had nothing else to do. My people were so happy during the five days, – the women ran races, and the men ran races on foot and on horses.

My father got up very early one morning, and told his people the time had come, – that we could no longer be happy as of old, as the white people we called our brothers had brought a great trouble and sorrow among us already. He went on and said,–

“These white people must be a great nation, as they have houses that move. It is wonderful to see them move along. I fear we will suffer greatly by their coming to our country; they come for no good to us, although my father said they were our brothers, but they do not seem to think we are like them. What do you all think about it? Maybe I am wrong. My dear children, there is something telling me that I am not wrong, because I am sure they have minds like us, and think as we do; and I know that they were doing wrong when they set fire to our winter supplies. They surely knew it was our food.”

And this was the first wrong done to us by our white brothers.

Now comes the end of our merrymaking.

Then my father told his people his fearful dream, as he called it. He said, –

“I dreamt this same thing three nights, – the very same. I saw the greatest emigration that has yet been through our country. I looked North and South and East and West, and saw nothing but dust, and I heard a great weeping. I saw women crying, and I also saw my men shot down by the white people. They were killing my people with something that made a great noise like thunder and lightning, and I saw the blood streaming from the mouths of my men that lay all around me. I saw it as if it was real. Oh, my dear children! You may all think it is only a dream, – nevertheless, I feel that it will come to pass. And to avoid bloodshed, we must all go to the mountains during the summer, or till my father comes back from California. He will then tell us what to do. Let us keep away from the emigrant roads and stay in the mountains all summer. There are to be a great many pine-nuts this summer, and we can lay up great supplies for the coming winter, and if the emigrants don’t come too early, we can take a run down and fish for a month, and lay up dried fish. I know we can dry a great many in a month, and young men can go into the valleys on hunting excursions, and kill as many rabbits as they can. In that way we can live in the mountains all summer and all winter too.”

So ended my father’s dream. During that day one could see old women getting together talking over what they had heard my father say. They said, –

“It is true what our great chief has said, for it was shown to him by a higher power. It is not a dream. Oh, it surely will come to pass. We shall no longer be a happy people, as we now are; we shall no longer go here and there as of old; we shall no longer build our big fires as a signal to our friends, for we shall always be afraid of being seen by those bad people.”

“Surely they don’t eat people?”

“Yes, they do eat people, because they ate each other up in the mountains last winter.”

This was the talk among the old women during the day.

“Oh, how grieved we are! Oh, where will it end?”

That evening one of our doctors called for a council, and all the men gathered together in the council-tent to hear what their medicine man had to say, for we all believe our doctor is greater than any human being living. We do not call him a medicine man because he gives medicine to the sick, as your doctors do. Our medicine man cures the sick by the laying on of hands, and we have doctresses as well as doctors. We believe that our doctors can communicate with holy spirits from heaven. We call heaven the Spirit Land.

Well, when all the men get together, of course there must be smoking the first thing. After the pipe has passed round five times to the right, it stops, and then he tells them to sing five songs. He is the leader in the song-singing. He sings heavenly songs, and he says he is singing with the angels. It is hard to describe these songs. They are all different, and he says the angels sing them to him.

Our doctors never sing war-songs, except at a war-dance, as they never go themselves on the war-path. While they were singing the last song, he said, –

“Now I am going into a trance. While I am in the trance you must smoke just as you did before; not a word must be spoken while I am in the trance.”

About fifteen minutes after the smoking was over, he began to make a noise as if he was crying a great way off. The noise came nearer and nearer, until he breathed, and after he came to, he kept on crying. And then he prophesied, and told the people that my father’s dream was true in one sense of the word, – that is, “Our people will not all die at the hands of our white brothers. They will kill a great many with their guns, but they will bring among us a fearful disease that will cause us to die by hundreds.”

We all wept, for we believed this word came from heaven.

So ended our feast, and every family went to its own home in the pine-nut mountains, and remained there till the pine-nuts were ripe. They ripen about the last of June.

Late in that fall, there came news that my grandfather was on his way home. Then my father took a great many of his men and went to meet his father, and there came back a runner, saying, that all our people must come together. It was said that my grandfather was bringing bad news. All our people came to receive their chieftain; all the old and young men and their wives went to meet him. One evening there came a man, saying that all the women who had little children should go to a high mountain. They wanted them to go because they brought white men’s guns, and they made such a fearful noise, it might even kill some of the little children. My grandfather had lost one of his men while he was away.

So all the women that had little children went. My mother was among the rest; and every time the guns were heard by us, the children would scream. I thought, for one that my heart would surely break. So some of the women went down from the mountain and told them not to shoot any more, or their children would die with fright. When our mothers brought us down to our homes the nearer we came to the camp, the more I cried,–

“Oh, mother, mother, don’t take us there!” I fought my mother, – I bit her. Then my father came, and took me in his arms and carried me to the camp. I put my head in his bosom, and would not look up for a long time. I heard my grandfather say,–

“So the young lady is ashamed because her sweetheart has come to see her. Come, dearest, that won’t do after I have had such a hard time to come to see my sweetheart, that she should be ashamed to look at me.”

Then he called my two brothers to him, and said to them, “Are you glad to see me?” And my brothers both told him that they were glad to see him. Then my grandfather said to them, –

“See that young lady; she does not love her sweetheart any more, does she? Well, I shall not live if she does not come and tell me she loves me. I shall take that gun, and I shall kill myself.”

That made me worse than ever, and I screamed and cried so hard that my mother had to take me away. So they kept weeping for the little one three or four days. I did not make up with my grandfather for a long time. He sat day after day, and night after night, telling his people about his white brothers. He told them that the whites were really their brothers, that they were very kind to everybody, especially to children; that they were always ready to give something to children. He told them what beautiful things their white brothers had, – what beautiful clothes they wore, and about the big houses that go on the mighty ocean, and travel faster than any horse in the world. His people asked him how big they were. “Well, as big as that hill you see there, and as high as the mountain over us.”

“Oh, that is not possible, – it would sink, surely.”

“It is every word truth, and that is nothing to what I am going to tell you. Our white brothers are a mighty nation, and have more wonderful things than that. They have a gun that can shoot a ball bigger than my head, that can go as far off as that mountain you see over there.”

The mountain he spoke of at that time was about twenty miles across from where we were. People opened their eyes when my grandfather told of the many battles they had with the Mexicans, and about their killing so many of the Mexicans, and taking their big city away from them, and how mighty they were. These wonderful things were talked about all winter long. The funniest thing was that he would sing some of the soldier’s roll-calls, and the air to the Star-spangled Banner, which everybody learned during the winter.

He then showed us a more wonderful thing than all the others that he had brought. It was a paper, which he said could talk to him. He took it out and he would talk to it, and talk with it. He said, “This can talk to all our white brothers, and our white sisters, and their children. Our white brothers are beautiful, and our white sisters are beautiful, and their children are beautiful! He also said the paper can travel like the wind, and it can go and talk with their fathers and brothers and sisters, and come back to tell what they are doing, and whether they are well or sick.”

After my grandfather told us this, our doctors and doctresses said,–

“If they can do this wonderful thing, they are not truly human, but pure spirits. None but heavenly spirits can do such wonderful things. We can communicate with the spirits, yet we cannot do wonderful things like them. Oh, our great chieftain, we are afraid your white brothers will yet make your people’s hearts bleed. You see if they don’t; for we can see it. Their blood is all around us, and the dead are lying all about us, and we cannot escape it. It will come. Then you will say our doctors and doctresses did know. Dance, sing, play, it will do no good; we cannot drive it away. They have already done the mischief, while you were away.”

But this did not go far with my grandfather. He kept talking to his people about the good white people, and told them all to get ready to go with him to California the following spring.

Very late that fall, my grandfather and my father and a great many more went down to the Humboldt River to fish. They brought back a great many fish, which we were very glad to get; for none of our people had been down to fish the whole summer.

When they came back, they brought us more news. They said there were some white people living at the Humboldt sink. They were the first ones my father had seen face to face. He said they were not like “humans.” They were more like owls than any thing else. They had hair on their faces, and had white eyes, and looked beautiful.1

I tell you we children had to be very good, indeed, during the winter; for we were told that if we were not good they would come and eat us up. We remained there all winter; the next spring the emigrants came as usual, and my father and grandfather and uncles, and many more went down on the Humboldt River on fishing excursions. While they were thus fishing, their white brothers came upon them and fired on them, and killed one of my uncles, and wounded another. Nine more were wounded, and five died afterwards. My other uncle got well again, and is living yet. Oh, that was a fearful thing, indeed!

After all these things had happened, my grandfather still stood up for his white brothers.

Our people had council after council, to get my grandfather to give his consent that they should go and kill those white men who were at the sink of Humboldt. No; they could do nothing of the kind while he lived. He told his people that his word was more to him than his son’s life, or any one else’s life either.

“Dear children,” he said, “think of your own words to me; – you promised. You want me to say to you, Go and kill those that are at the sink of Humboldt. After your promise, how dare you to ask me to let your hearts be stained with the blood of those who are innocent of the deed that has been done to us by others? Is not my dear beloved son laid alongside of your dead, and you say I stand up for their lives. Yes, it is very hard, indeed; but, nevertheless, I know and you know that those men who live at the sink are not the ones that killed our men.”

While my grandfather was talking, he wept, and men, women, and children, were all weeping. One could hardly hear him talking.

After he was through talking, came the saddest part. The widow of my uncle who was killed, and my mother and father all had long hair. They cut off their hair, and also cut long gashes in their arms and legs, and they were all bleeding as if they would die with the loss of blood. This continued for several days, for this is the way we mourn for our dead. When the woman’s husband dies, she is first to cut off her hair, and then she braids it and puts it across his breast; then his mother and sisters, his father and brothers and all his kinsfolk cut their hair. The widow is to remain unmarried until her hair is the same length as before, and her face is not to be washed all that time, and she is to use no kind of paint, nor to make any merriment with other women until the day is set for her to do so by her father-in-law, or if she has no father-in-law, by her mother-in-law, and then she is at liberty to go where she pleases. The widower is at liberty when his wife dies; but he mourns for her in the same way, by cutting his hair off.

It was late that fall when my grandfather prevailed with his people to go with him to California. It was this time that my mother accompanied him. Everything had been got ready to start on our journey. My dear father was to be left behind. How my poor mother begged to stay with her husband! But my grandfather told her that she could come back in the spring to see her husband; so we started for California, leaving my poor papa behind. All my kinsfolk went with us but one aunt and her children.

The first night found us camped at the sink of Carson, and the second night we camped on Carson River. The third day, as we were travelling along the river, some of our men who were ahead, came back and said there were some of our white brothers’ houses ahead of us. So my grandfather told us all to stop where we were while he went to see them. He was not gone long, and when he came back he brought some hard bread which they gave him. He told us that was their food, and he gave us all some to taste. That was the first I ever tasted.

Then my grandfather once more told his people that his paper talked for him, and he said,–

“Just as long as I live and have that paper which my white brothers’ great chieftain has given me, I shall stand by them, come what will.” He held the paper up towards heaven and kissed it, as if it was really a person. “Oh, if I should lose this,” he said, “we shall all be lost. So, children, get your horses ready, and we will go on, and we will camp with them to-night, or by them, for I have a sweetheart along who is dying for fear of my white brothers.” He meant me; for I was always crying and hiding under somebody’s robes, for we had no blankets then.

Well, we went on; but we did not camp with them, because my poor mother and brothers and sisters told my grandfather that I was sick with crying for fright, and for him not to camp too close to them. The women were speaking two words for themselves and one for me, for they were just as afraid as I was. I had seen my brother Natchez crying when the men came back, and said there were white men ahead of us. So my grandfather did as my mother wished him to do, and we went on by them; but I did not know it, as I had my head covered while we were passing their camp. I was riding behind my older brother, and we went on and camped quite a long way from them that night.

So we travelled on to California, but did not see any more of our white brothers till we got to the head of Carson River, about fifteen miles above where great Carson City now stands.

“Now give me the baby.” It was my baby-sister that grandpa took from my mother, and I peeped from under my mother’s fur, and I saw some one take my little sister. Then I cried out, –

“Oh, my sister! Don’t let them take her away.”

And once more my poor grandfather told his people that his white brothers and sisters were very kind to children. I stopped crying, and looked at them again. Then I saw them give my brother and sister something white. My mother asked her father what it was, and he said it was Pe-har-be, which means sugar. Just then one of the women came to my mother with some in her hand, and grandpa said:–

“Take it, my child.”

Then I held out my hand without looking. That was the first gift I ever got from a white person, which made my heart very glad.

When they went away, my grandfather called me to him, and said I must not be afraid of the white people, for they are very good. I told him that they looked so very bad I could not help it.

We travelled with them at that time two days, and the third day we all camped together where some white people were living in large white houses. My grandpa went to one of the houses, and when he came back he said his white brothers wanted him to come and get some beef and hard bread. So he took four men with him to get it, and they gave him four boxes of hard bread and a whole side of beef, and the next morning we got our horses ready to go on again. There was some kind of a fight, – that is, the captain of the train was whipping negroes who were driving his team. That made my poor grandfather feel very badly. He went to the captain, and told him he would not travel with him. He came back and said to his people that he would not travel with his white brothers any farther. We travelled two days without seeing any more of my grandfather’s white brothers. At last we came to a very large encampment of white people, and they ran out of their wagons, or wood-houses, as we called them, and gathered round us. I was riding behind my brother. I was so afraid, I told him to put his robe over me, but he did not do so. I scratched him and bit him on his back, and then my poor grandfather rode up to the tents where they were, and he was asked to stay there all night with them. After grandpa had talked awhile, he said to his people that he would camp with his brothers. So he did. Oh, what nice things we all got from my grandpa’s white brothers! Our men got red shirts, and our women got calico for dresses. Oh, what a pretty dress my sister got! I did not get anything, because I hid all the time. I was hiding under some robes. No one knew where I was. After all the white people were gone, I heard my poor mother cry out:–

“Oh, where is my little girl? Oh, father, can it be that the white people have carried her away? Oh, father, go and find her, – go, go, and find her!” And I also heard my brothers and sister cry. Yet I said nothing, because they had not called me to get some of the pretty things. When they began to cry, I began crawling out, and then my grandfather scolded me, and told me that his brothers loved good children, but not bad ones like me. How I did cry, and wished that I had staid at home with my father! I went to sleep crying.

I did not forget what had happened. There was a house near where we camped. My grandfather went down to the house with some of his men, and pretty soon we saw them coming back. They were carrying large boxes, and we were all looking at them. My mother said there were two white men coming with them.

“Oh, mother, what shall I do? Hide me!”

I just danced round like a wild one, which I was. I was behind my mother. When they were coming nearer, I heard my grandpa say,–

“Make a place for them to sit down.”

Just then, I peeped round my mother to see them. I gave one scream, and said,–

“Oh, mother, the owls!”

I only saw their big white eyes, and I thought their faces were all hair. My mother said,–

“I wish you would send your brothers away, for my child will die.”

I imagined I could see their big white eyes all night long. They were the first ones I had ever seen in my life.

We went on the next day, and passed some more of our white brothers’ houses, as we called their wagons at that time. We camped on the Sanvada mountains and spent the night. My grandfather said everything that was good about the white people to me. At last we were camped upon the summit, and it snowed very hard all night, and in the morning my grandfather told his people to hurry and get their horses, and travel on, for fear we might get snowed into the mountains. That night we overtook some emigrants who were camped there to rest their oxen. This time I watched my grandfather to see what he would do. He said, “I am going to show them my rag friend again.” As he rode up to one of their tents, three white men came out to him; then they took him to a large tent. Quite a number of white men came out to him. I saw him take out the paper he called his rag friend and give it to one of the men who stood looking at it; then he looked up and came toward him and held out his hand to my grandfather, and then the rest of the white men did the same all round. Then the little children and the women did the same, and I saw the little ones running to their tents and back again with something in their hands, and they were giving it to each man. The next morning I could not eat, and said to my mother,–

“Let us go back to father – let us not go with grandpa, for he is bad.” My poor mother said, “We can ‘t go alone; we would all be killed if we go, for we have no rag friend as father has. And dear, you must be good, and grandpa will love you just as well as ever. You must do what he tells you to do.”

Oh, how badly I did feel! I held my two hands over my face, and was crying as if my heart would break.

“My dear, don ‘t cry; here comes grandpa.”

I heard him say,–

“Well, well, is my sweetheart never going to stop crying? Come, dear, I have something for my baby; come and see what it is.”

So I went to him with my head down, not because I was afraid he would whip me, – no – no, for Indians do not whip their children. Oh, how happy I was when he told me he would give me something very beautiful. It was a little cup, and it made me very glad, indeed; and he told me it was to drink water out of, not to wear. He said,–

“I am going to tell you what I did with a beautiful gift I received from my white brothers. It was of the same kind, only it was flat and round, and it was as bright as your cup is now.”

He said to his wife, “Give me my bright hat;” and she did so.

“You see I used to wear it on my head, because my white brother did not tell me what it was for.” Then he began to laugh, and he laughed so long! then he stopped and said, “it was not to wear, but to eat out of, and I have made myself a fool by wearing it as a hat. Oh, how my brothers did laugh at me because I wore it at our first fight with Mexicans in Mexico. Now, dearest children, I do not want you to think my brothers laughed at me to make fun of me; no – no – it was because I wore the tin plate for a hat, that ‘s all.”

He also said they had much prettier things than this to eat out of. He went on and told us never to take anything belonging to them or lying outside of his white brothers’ houses. “They hang their clothes out of doors after washing them; but they are not thrown away, and for fear some of you might think so and take them, I tell you about it. Therefore, never take anything unless they give it to you; then they will love you.”

So I kept thinking over what he said to me about the good white people, and saying to myself, “I will make friends with them when we come into California.”

When we came to Sacramento valley (it is a very beautiful valley), my grandfather said to his people that a great many of his white brothers were there, and he knew a great many of them; but we would not go there, – we would go on to Stockton. There he had a very good brother, who had a very big house, made of red stone; it was so high that it would tire any one to go up to some of the rooms. My uncle, my mother’s brother, asked him how many rooms were up there? My grandpa said,–

“We have to climb up three times to get to the top.” They all laughed, as much as to say my grandpa lied. He said, “You will not laugh when I show you what wonderful things my white brothers can do. I will tell you something more wonderful than that. My brother has a big house that runs on the river, and it whistles and makes a beautiful noise, and it has a bell on it which makes a beautiful noise also.” My uncle asked again how big it was.

“Oh, you will see for yourself; we will get there to-morrow night. We will stop there ten days, and you can see for yourselves, and then you will know, my brothers, that what I have told you is true.”

After travelling all day we went into camp for the night. We had been there but a little while, and there came a great many men on horseback, and camped near us. I ran to my mother and said I was sleepy, and wanted to go to bed. I did so because I did not want to see them, and I knew grandpa would have them come to see us. I heard him say he was going to see them. I lay down quietly for a little while, and then got up and looked round to see if my brother was going too. There was no one but my mother and little sister. They had all gone to see them.

“Lie down, dear,” my mother said.

I did so, but I did not sleep for a long time, for I was thinking about the house that runs on the water. I wondered what it was like. I kept saying to myself, “Oh, I wish it was to-morrow now.” I heard mother say,–

“They are coming.” Pretty soon I heard grandpa say, “They are not my brothers.” Mother said, “Who are they?”

“They are what my brothers call Mexicans. They are the people we fought; if they knew who I was they would kill me, but they shall not know. I am not going to show them my rag friend, for fear my rag friend will tell of me.”

Oh my! oh my! That made me worse than ever. I cried, so that one could have heard my poor heart beat. Oh, how I wished I was back with my father again! All the children were not afraid of the white people – only me. My brothers would go everywhere with grandpa. I would not have been so afraid of them if I had not been told by my own father and grandmamma that the white people would kill little children and eat them.

Everything was all right, and the next day we went on our journey, and after a whole day’s journey we came within a mile of the town. The sun was almost down when grandpa stopped and said, –

“Now, one and all, listen as you go on. You will hear the water-house bell ring.”

So we did, and pretty soon we heard the prettiest noise we had ever heard in all our life-time. It became dark before we got to the town, but we could see something like stars away ahead of us. Oh, how I wished I had staid with my father in our own country. I cried out, saying, –

“Oh, mother, I am so afraid. I cannot go to the white people. They are so much like the owls with their big white eyes. I cannot make friends with them.”

I kept crying until we came nearer the town, and camped for the night. My grandpa said to his men,–

“Unsaddle your horses while I go and see my friend.”

He came back in a few moments, and said:–

“Turn your horses into the corral, and now we will go to bed without making any fire.”

So we did, and I for one was glad. But although very tired I could not sleep, for grandpa kept telling us that at daybreak we would hear the water-house’s whistle. The next morning my mother waked me, and I got up and looked round me. I found no one but mother.

“Oh, where is sister, mother?”

“Oh, she has gone with the rest to see the water-house.”

“Mother, did you hear it whistle?”

“Yes, we all heard it, and it made such a fearful noise! The one that whistled has gone on. But another came in just like it, and made just such a noise. Your brother was here awhile ago. He said the water-house had many looking-glasses all round it, and when it came in it was so tired, it breathed so hard, it made us almost deaf.”

“Say, mother, let us go and see.”

But mother said, –

“No, your brother said there were so many white people that one can hardly get along. We will wait until your grandpa comes, and hear what they all say. A’n’t you hungry, my child?”

I said, “Yes.”

“Your brother brought something that tastes like sugar.”

It was cake, and I ate so much it made me sick.

I was sick all day and night, and the next day I had the chills. Oh, I was very, very sick; my poor mother thought I would die. I heard her say to grandpa one day,–

“The sugar-bread was poisoned which your white brother gave us to eat, and it has made my poor little girl so sick that I am afraid she will die.” My poor mother and brothers and sisters were crying; mother had me in her arms. My grandpa came and took me in his arms and said to me, –

“Open your eyes, dear, and see your grandpa!” I did as he told me, because I had not forgotten what mother had said to me, to do whatever he told me to do, and then he would love me. The reason I had not opened my eyes was because my head ached so badly that it hurt me so I shut them again. My poor mother cried the more, and all our people gathered around us and began to cry. My mother said to grandpa,–

“Can there be anything done for her?”

“Dear daughter,” he said, “I am sorry you have such bad hearts against my white brothers. I have eaten some sugar-bread, and so have you, and all the rest of us, and we did not get sick. Dear daughter, you should have blessed the strange food before you gave it to your child to eat; maybe this is why she is sick.”

It is a law among us that all strange food is blessed before eaten, and also clothing of any kind that is given to us by any one, Indians or white people, must be blessed before worn. So all my people came together and prayed over me, but it was all in vain. I do not know how long I was sick, but very long. I was indeed poisoned, not by the bread I had eaten, but by poison oak. My face swelled so that I could not see for a long time, but I could hear everything. At last some one came that had a voice like an angel. I really thought it must be an angel, for I had been taught by my father that an angel comes to watch the sick one and take the soul to the spirit land. I kept thinking it must be so, and I learned words from the angel (as I thought it). I could not see, for my eyes were swollen shut. These were the words, “Poor little girl, it is too bad!” It was said so often by the pretty sweet voice, I would say it over and over when I was suffering so badly, and would cry out, “Poor little girl, it is too bad!” At last I began to get well, and I could hear my grandpa say the same words.

Then I began to see a little, and the first thing I asked my mother, was, “What was the angel saying to me?” Oh, how frightened my poor mother was! She cried out, –

“Oh, father, come here! My little girl is talking to the angels, – she is dying.”

My sister and brothers ran to her, crying, and for the first time since I was sick I cried out, “Oh, don’t, don’t cry! I am getting well, – indeed I am. Stop crying, and give me something to eat. I was only asking you what the angel meant by saying ‘Poor little girl, it is too bad!'”

“Oh,” says grandpa, “it is the good white woman; I mean my white sister, who comes here to see you. She has made you well. She put some medicine on your face, and has made you see. Ain’t you glad to see?”

I said, “Can I see her now?”

“Yes, she will come pretty soon; she comes every day to see you.”

Then my mother came with something for me to eat, but I said, “Wait, grandpa, tell me more about the good woman.”

He said, “My dear child, she is truly an angel, and she has come every day to see you. You will love her, I know.”

“Dear grandpa, will she come pretty soon? I want to see her.”

Grandpa said, “I will go and get her. You won’t be afraid, will you?”

So my grandpa went. I tried my best to eat, but I could not, it was so hard.

My sister said, “They are coming.”

I said, “Mother, fix my eyes so I can see the angel. Has it wings, mother?”

Mother said, “You will see for yourself.”

Just then they came, and grandpa said, “Here she is.” The first thing she did she put her beautiful white hand on my forehead. I looked at her; she was, indeed, a beautiful angel. She said the same words as before. I asked my grandpa what she was saying. Then he told me what she meant by it. I began to get well very fast, and this sweet angel came every day and brought me something nice to eat; and oh, what pretty dresses she brought me. When she brought the dresses she talked to my grandpa a long time, and she cried, and after she went away he said to my mother, –

“The dresses which my white sister gave my child were her dead child’s clothes, so they should be burned.” I began to cry, because I did not want them burned. He said to me,–

“Do n’t cry, my child; you will get nicer ones than these if you learn to love my white sister.”

Of course the clothes were burned, and after I got well my grandpa took great delight in taking us all to see his white brothers and sisters, and I knew what he meant when he said “my little girls;” I knew he meant me and sister, and he also would say “my little boys,” when he was talking about my brothers.

He would say, pointing to my brother, “my Natchez;” he always said this. So the white people called one of my brothers Natchez, and he has had that name to this day.

So I came to love the white people. We left Stockton and went on farther to a place called San Joaquin River. It took us only one day to go there. We only crossed that river at that time.

One of my grandpa’s friends was named Scott, and the other Bonsal. After we got there, his friend killed beef for him and his people. We stayed there some time. Then grandpa told us that he had taken charge of Mr. Scott’s cattle and horses, and he was going to take them all up to the mountains to take care of them for his brothers. He wanted my uncles and their families and my mother and her two sons and three daughters to stay where they were; that is, he told his dear daughter that he wanted her two sons to take care of a few horses and cows that would be left. My mother began to cry, and said,–

“Oh, father, don’t leave us here! My children might get sick, and there would be no one to speak for us; or something else might happen.” He again said, “I don’t think my brothers will do anything that is wrong to you and your children.” Then my mother asked my grandfather if he would take my sister with him. My poor mother felt that her daughter was unsafe, for she was young and very good-looking.

“I would like to take her along,” he said, “but I want her to learn how to work and cook. Scott and Bonsal say they will take the very best care of you and the children. It is not as if I was going to leave you here really alone; your brothers will be with you.” So we staid. Two men owned the ferry, and they had a great deal of money. So my brothers took care of their horses and cows all winter, and they paid them well for their work. But, oh, what trouble we had for a while! The men whom my grandpa called his brothers would come into our camp and ask my mother to give our sister to them. They would come in at night, and we would all scream and cry; but that would not stop them. My sister, and mother, and my uncles all cried and said, “Oh, why did we come? Oh, we shall surely all be killed some night.” My uncles and brothers would not dare to say a word, for fear they would be shot down. So we used to go away every night after dark and hide, and come back to our camp every morning. One night we were getting ready to go, and there came five men. The fire was out; we could see two men come into the tent and shut off the postles outside. My uncles and my brothers made such a noise! I don’t know what happened; when I woke I asked my mother if they had killed my sister. She said, “We are all safe here. Don’t cry.”

“Where are we, mother?”

“We are in a boarding-house.”

“Are my uncles killed?”

“No, dear, they are all near here too.”

I said, “Sister, where are you? I want to come to you.” She said, “Come on.”

I laid down, but I could not sleep. I could hear my poor sister’s heart beat. Early the next morning we got up and went down stairs, for it was upstairs where we slept. There were a great many in the room. When we came down, my mother said, “We will go outside.”

My sister said, “There is no outlet to the house. We can’t get out.”

Mother looked round and said, “No, we cannot get out.” I as usual began to cry. My poor sister! I ran to her, I saw tears in her eyes. I heard some one speak close to my mother. I looked round and saw Mr. Scott holding the door open. Mother said, “Children, come.”

He went out with us and pointed to our camp, and shook his head, and motioned to mother to go into a little house where they were cooking. He took my hand in his, and said the same words that I had learned, “Poor little girl.” I could see by his looks that he pitied me, so I was not afraid of him. We went in and sat down on the floor. Oh, what pretty things met my eyes. I was looking all round the room, and I saw beautiful white cups, and every beautiful thing on something high and long, and around it some things that were red.

I said to my sister, “Do you know what those are?” for she had been to the house before with my brothers. She said, “That high thing is what they use when eating, and the white cups are what they drink hot water from, and the red things you see is what they sit upon when they are eating.” There was one now near us, and I thought if I could sit upon it I should be so happy! I said to my mother, “Can I sit on that one?” She said, “No, they would whip you.” I did not say any more, but sat looking at the beautiful red chair. By-and-by the white woman went out, and I wished in my heart I could go and sit upon it while she was gone. Then she came in with her little child in her arms. As she came in she went right to the very chair I wanted to sit in so badly, and set her child in it. I looked up to my mother, and said, “Will she get a whipping?”

“No, dear, it belongs to her father.”

So I said no more. Pretty soon a man came in. She said something to him, and he went out, and in a little while they all came in and sat round that high thing, as I called it. That was the table. It was all very strange to me, and they were drinking the hot water as they ate. I thought it was indeed hot water. After they got through, they all went out again, but Mr. Scott staid and talked to the woman and the man a long time. Then the woman fixed five places and the men went out and brought in my brothers, and kept talking to them. My brother said, “Come and sit here, and you, sister, sit there.” But as soon as I sat down in the beautiful chair I began to look at the pretty picture on the back of the chair. “Dear, sit nice and eat, or the white woman will whip you,” my mother said. I was quiet, but did not eat much. I tasted the black hot water; I did not like it. It was coffee that we called hot water. After we had done, brother said, “Mother, come outside; I want to talk to you.” So we all went out. Brother said, “Mother, Mr. Scott wants us all to stay here. He says you and sister are to wash dishes, and learn all kinds of work. We are to stay here all the time and sleep upstairs, and the white woman is going to teach my sister how to sew. I think, dear mother, we had better stay, because grandpa said so, and our father Scott will take good care of us. He is going up into the mountains to see how grandpa is getting along, and he says he will take my uncles with him.” All the time brother was talking, my mother and sister were crying. I did not cry, for I wanted to stay so that I could sit in the beautiful red chairs. Mother said,–

“Dear son, you know if we stay here sister will be taken from us by the bad white man. I would rather see her die than see her heart full of fear every night.”

“Yes, dear mother, we love our dear sister, and if you say so we will go to papa.”

“Yes, dear son, let us go and tell him what his white brothers are doing to us.”

“Then I will go and tell Mr. Scott we want to go to our papa.” He was gone some time, and at last came back.

“Mother,” he says, “we can’t go, – that is, brother and I must stay; – but you and sister can go if you wish to.”

“Oh no, my dear children, how can I go and leave you here? Oh, how can that bad man keep you from going? You are not his children. How dare he say you cannot go with your mother? He is not your father; he is nothing but a bad white man, and he dares to say you cannot go. Your own father did not say you should not come with me. Oh, had my dear husband said those words I would not have been here to-day, and see my dear children suffer from day to day. Oh, if your father only knew how his children were suffering, I know he would kill that white man who tried to take your sister. I cannot see for my life why my father calls them his white brothers. They are not people; they have no thought, no mind, no love. They are beasts, or they would know I, a lone woman, am here with them. They tried to take my girl from me and abuse her before my eyes and yours too, and oh, you must go too.”

“Oh, mother, here he comes!”

My mother got up. She held out her two hands to him, and cried out, –

“Oh, good father, don’t keep my children from me. If you have a heart in you, give them back to me. Let me take them to their good father, where they can be cared for.”

We all cried to see our poor mother pleading for us. Mother held on to him until he gave some signs of letting her sons go with her; then he nodded his head, – they might go. My poor mother’s crying was turned into joy, and we were all glad. The wagon was got ready, – we were to ride in it. Oh, how I jumped about because I was going to ride in it! I ran up to sister, and said,–

“Ain’t you glad we are going to ride in that beautiful red house?” I called it house. My sister said, –

“Not I, dear sister, for I hate everything that belongs to the white dogs. I would rather walk all the way; oh, I hate them so badly!”

When everything was got ready, we got into the red house, as we called the wagon. I soon got tired of riding in the red house and went to sleep. Nothing happened during the day, and after awhile mother told us not to say a word about why we left, for grandpa might get mad with us. So we got to our people, and grandpa ran out to meet us. We were all glad to see him. The white man staid all night, and went home the next day. After he left us my grandpa called my brothers to him.

“Now, my dear little boys, I have something to tell you that will make you happy. Our good father (he did not say my white brother, but he said our good father) has left something with me to give you, and he also told me that he had given you some money for your work. He says you are all good boys, and he likes you very much; and he told me to give you three horses apiece, which makes six in all, and he wants you and your brother to go back and to go on with the same work, and he will pay you well for it. He is to come back in three days; then if you want to go with him you can.”

Brother said, “Will mother and sisters go too?”

“No, they will stay with me.” My brothers were so happy over their horses.

Now, my dear reader, there is no word so endearing as the word father, and that is why we call all good people father or mother; no matter who it is, – negro, white man, or Indian, and the same with the women. Grandpa talked to my mother a long time, but I did not hear what he said to her, as I went off to play with the other children. But the first thing I knew the white man came and staid four days. Then all the horses were got up, and he saw them all, and the cattle also. I could see my poor mother and sister crying now and then, but I did not know what for. So one morning the man was going away, and I saw mother getting my brothers’ horses ready too. I ran to my mother, and said, “Mother, what makes you cry so?” Grandpa was talking to her. He said, “They will not be hurt; they will have quite a number of horses by the time we are ready to go back to our home again.”

I knew then that my brothers were going back with this man. Oh, then I began to cry, and said everything that was bad to them. I threw myself down upon the ground.

“Oh, brothers, I will never see them any more. They will kill them, I know. Oh, you naughty, naughty grandpa, you want my poor brothers to be killed by the bad men. You don’t know what they do to us. Oh, mother, run, – bring them back again!”

Oh, how we missed our brothers for a long time. We did not see them for a long time, but the men came now and then. They never brought my brothers with them. After they went away, grandpa would come in with his rag friend in hand and say to mother, “My friend here says my boys are all right, not sick.”

My mother said, “Father, why can you not have them come and see us sometimes?”

“Dear daughter, we will get ready to go home. It is time now that the snow is off the mountains. In ten days more we will go, and we will get the children as we go by.”

Oh, how happy everybody was! Everybody was singing here and there, getting beautiful dresses made, and before we started we had a thanksgiving dance. The day we were to start we partook of the first gathering of food for that summer. So that morning everybody prayed, and sang songs, and danced, and ate before starting. It was all so nice, and everybody was so happy because they were going to see their dear country and the dear ones at home. Grandpa took all the horses belonging to the white men. After we got home the horses were put into the corral for all night, and the two white men counted their horses the next morning. They gave my grandpa eight horses for his work, and two or three horses each to some of the people. To my two brothers they gave sixteen horses and some money, and after we all got our horses, grandpa said to his people, –

“Now, my children, you see that what I have told you about my white brothers is true. You see we have not worked very much, and they have given us all horses. Don’t you see they are good people?”

All that time, neither my uncles nor my mother had told what the white men did while we were left all alone.

So the day was set for starting. It was to be in five days. We had been there three days when we saw the very men who were so bad to us. Yes, they were talking to grandpa. Mother said to sister, –

“They are talking about us. You see they are looking this way.”

Sister said, “Oh, mother, I hope grandpa will not do such a wicked thing as to give me to those bad men.”

Oh, how my heart beat! I saw grandpa shake his head, and he looked mad with them. He came away and left them standing there. From that day my grandma took my sister under her care, and we got along nicely.

Then we started for our home, and after travelling some time we arrived at the head of Carson River. There we met some of our people, and they told us some very bad news, indeed, which made us all cry. They said almost all the tribe had died off, and if one of a family got sick it was a sure thing that the whole family would die. He said the white men had poisoned the Humboldt River, and our people had drank the water and died off. Grandpa said, –

“Is my son dead?”

“No, he has been in the mountains all the time, and all who have been there are all right.”

The men said a great many of our relations had died off.

We staid there all night, and the next day our hair was all cut off. My sister and my mother had such beautiful hair!

So grandpa said to the man,–

“Go and tell our people we are coming. Send them to each other, and tell my son to come to meet us.”

So we went on our journey, and after travelling three days more we came to a place called Genoa, on the west side of Carson River, at the very place where I had first seen a white man. A saw-mill and a grist-mill were there, and five more houses. We camped in the very same place where we did before. We staid there a long time waiting for my father to come to meet us. At last my cousin rode into our camp one evening, and said my father was coming with many of his people. We heard them as they came nearer and nearer; they were all crying, and then we cried too, and as they got off their horses they fell into each other’s arms, like so many little children, and cried as if their hearts would break, and told what they had suffered since we went away, and how our people had died off. As soon as one would get sick he would drink water and die right off. Every one of them was in mourning also, and they talked over the sad things which had happened to them during the time we were away. One and all said that the river must have been poisoned by the white people, because that they had prayed, and our spirit-doctors had tried to cure the sick; they too died while they were trying to cure them. After they had told grandpa all, he got angry and said, –

“My dear children, I am heartily sorry to hear your sad story; but I cannot and will not believe my white brothers would do such a thing. Oh, my dear children, do not think so badly of our white fathers, for if they had poisoned the river, why, my dear children, they too would have died when they drank of the water. It is this, my dear children, it must be some fearful disease or sickness unknown to us, and therefore, my dear children, don’t blame our brothers. The whole tribe have called me their father, and I have loved you all as my dear children, and those who have died are happy in the Spirit-land, though we mourn their loss here on earth. I know my grandchildren and daughters and brothers are in that happy bright Spirit-land, and I shall soon see them there. Some of you may live a long time yet, and don’t let your hearts work against your white fathers; if you do, you will not get along. You see they are already here in our land; here they are all along the river, and we must let our brothers live with us. We cannot tell them to go away. I know your good hearts. I know you won’t say kill them. Surely you all know that they are human. Their lives are just as dear to them as ours to us. It is a very sad thing indeed to have to lose so many of our dear ones; but maybe it was to be. We can do nothing but mourn for their loss.” He went on to say,–

“My dear children, you all know the tradition says: ‘Weep not for your dead; but sing and be joyful, for the soul is happy in the Spirit-land.’ But it is natural for man or woman to weep, because it relieves our hearts to weep together, and we all feel better afterwards.”

Every one hung their heads while grandpa talked on. Now and then one could hear some of them cry out, just as the Methodists cry out at their meetings; and grandpa said a great many beautiful things to his people. He talked so long, I for one wished he would stop, so I could go and throw myself into my father’s arms, and tell him what the white people were. At last he stopped, and we all ran to our father and threw our arms around his neck, and cried for joy; and then mother came with little sister. Papa took her in his arms, and mother put her hand in his bosom, and we all wept together, because mother had lost two sisters, and their husbands, and all their children but one girl; and thus passed away the day. Grandpa had gone off during our meeting with father, and prayer was offered, and every one washed their face, and were waiting for something else. Pretty soon grandpa came, and said: “This is my friend,” holding up his paper in his hand. “Does it look as if it could talk and ask for anything? Yet it does. It can ask for something to eat for me and my people. Yet, it is nothing but a rag. Oh, wonderful things my white brothers can do. I have taken it down to them, and it has asked for sacks of flour for us to eat. Come, we will go and get them.” So the men went down and got the flour. Grandpa took his son down to see the white men, and by-and-by we saw them coming back. They had given my father a red blanket and a red shirt.

From Wikipedia: Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins (born Thocmentony, meaning Shell Flower; also seen as “Tocmetone” in Northern Paiute, c. 1844 – October 16, 1891) was a Northern Paiute author, activist and educator.

Sarah Winnemucca was born near Humboldt Lake, Nevada, into an influential Paiute family who led their community in pursuing friendly relations with the arriving groups of Anglo-American settlers. She was sent to study in a Catholic school in Santa Clara, California. When the Paiute War erupted between the Pyramid Lake Paiute and the settlers, including some who were friends of the Winnemucca family, Sarah and some of her family traveled to San Francisco and Virginia City to escape the fighting. They made a living performing onstage as “A Paiute Royal Family.” In 1865, while the Winnemucca family was away, their band was attacked by the US cavalry, who killed 29 Paiutes, including Sarah’s mother and several members of her extended family.

Subsequently, Winnemucca became an advocate for the rights of Native Americans, traveling across the US to tell Anglo-Americans about the plight of her people. When the Paiute were interned in a concentration camp at Yakima, Washington after the Bannock War, she traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress and the executive branch for their release. She also served US forces as a messenger, interpreter, and guide, and as a teacher for imprisoned Native Americans.

Winnemucca published Life Among the Paiutes: Their Wrongs and Claims (1884), a book that is both a memoir and history of her people during their first 40 years of contact with European Americans. It is considered the “first known autobiography written by a Native American woman.” Anthropologist Omer Stewart described it as “one of the first and one of the most enduring ethnohistorical books written by an American Indian,” frequently cited by scholars. Following the publication of the book, Winnemucca toured the Eastern United States, giving lectures about her people in New England, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. She returned to the West, founding a private school for Native American children in Lovelock, Nevada.

Read the entirety of Life Among the Piutes here.