Life Among the Piutes was written by Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, daughter of Northern Paiute Chief Winnemucca. In her book, Sarah provides a fascinating view into the lives of the Northern Paiutes living on the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation during the late 1800s. Winnemucca gives her voice to the plight of her people as they struggle to survive the effects of government Indian policy in the Western United States, enabling the reader to examine how the US reservation system, assimilation policy and the BIA failed to provide adequately for the Paiute people. The feelings of hope and despair felt by the Paiute people during the 1870s and 1880s, coupled with examples of corruption by white settlers and Indian agents, make for a truly enlightening read. Winnemucca's memories are bittersweet. She relates her actions to help t only her own people but the US army during the Indian wars of that era, including the Banck War. Marrying US Army soldier Lewis Hopkins in the early 1880s, her story also includes events during their marriage. An advocate for her people, Sarah traveled to Washington, D. C. to speak with the President. She also traveled coast-to-coast, publicly speaking about the plight of her people as well as her life as a young Paiute woman. Stories of her daring escapades as an Army scout and participation in several Indian wars are powerful and moving. Reflecting a side of history often overlooked by other authors, Life Among the Piutes is both heartbreaking and admirable. Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins was a powerful role model for Native American women of her time, and her contributions to the Paiutes have made her one of their most revered members over history.
Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins (1841-1891) was notable for being the first Native American woman known to secure a copyright and to publish in the English language. She was also known by her married name, Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, under which she was published. Her book, Life Among the Paiutes: Their Wrongs and Claims, is an autobiographical account of her people during their first forty years of contact with explorers and settlers. Sarah was a person of two worlds. At the time of her birth her people had only very limited contact with Euro-Americans; however she spent much of her adult life in white society. Like many people of two worlds, she may be judged harshly in both contexts. Many Paiutes view her as a collaborator who helped the U.S. Army kill her people. Modern historians view her book as an important primary source, but one that is deliberately misleading in many instances. Despite this, Sarah has recently received much positive attention for her activism. She was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame in 1993, and in 2005 a statue of her by sculptor Benjamin Victor was added to the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol.