Sarah Winnemucca


Sarah Winnemucca

Sally Zanjani

American Indian Lives Series

368 pages
20 illustrations, 2 maps, index


September 2004


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

This book is the triumphant and moving story of Sarah Winnemucca (1844–91), one of the most influential and charismatic Native women in American history. Born into a legendary family of Paiute leaders in western Nevada, Sarah dedicated much of her life to working for her people. She played an instrumental and controversial role as interpreter and messenger for the U.S. Army during the Bannock War of 1878 and traveled to Washington in 1880 to obtain the release of her people from confinement on the Yakama Reservation. She toured the East Coast in the 1880s, tirelessly giving speeches about the plight of her people and heavily criticizing the reservation system. In 1883 she produced her autobiography—the first written by a Native woman—and founded a Native school whose educational practices were far ahead of its time. Sally Zanjani also reveals Sarah’s notorious sharp tongue and wit, her love of performance, her string of failed relationships, and at the end, possible poisoning by a romantic rival.

Author Bio

Sally Zanjani is on the faculty of the political science department at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is the author of A Mine of Her Own: Women Prospectors in the American West, 1850–1950 (Nebraska 1997) and other works.


“Sally Zanjani has generated an epic portrayal.”—Bloomsbury Review

“Well-written and smartly organized. . . . A useful addition to the literature, one that nicely joins biography to a larger piece of nineteenth-century Indian history.”—Western Historical Quarterly

“A thoroughly documented biography of a brilliant individual.”—Choice

“Essential reading for anyone interested in this fascinating figure.”—Journal of American History

“Zanjani's excellent history of this remarkable woman is recommended for all public and academic libraries.”—Library Journal

“She paves the way for a new interpretation of Sarah Winnemucca—one informed by the ways she is understood by Paiute people themselves.”—Women’s Review of Books

"Zanjani has done us a great service by placing Sarah fimly within the context of her time and place, as well as doing so in a narrative sytle thatmeks this biography a pleasure to read. . . . Beyond biography, this work is also a useful resource for information about Paiute customs, legends, and beliefs."—Joyce Thierer, Journal of the West

“Well documented. Excellent for research”—Mosaic


2002 WILLA Literary Award, sponsored by Women Writing the West, non-fiction category finalist
2001 Co-Founders "Best Book" Award, sponsored by the Westerners International, winner
2001 Evans Biography Award, sponsored by the Mountain West Center for Regional Studies at Utah State University, winner

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