Sarah Winnemucca, born in 1844, was a remarkable woman. By age 14 she spoke five languages: English, Spanish, and three native dialects. She served as a translator for the Armed Forces and addressed the President of the United States and the Secretary of the Interior on the plight of the Paiute Tribe. She spoke many times about the harshness of reservation confinement, founded a school and published a memoir. Born near Humboldt Lake to an influential family that supported contact with the Anglo-American settlers, Sarah Winnemucca was educated in a Catholic School in Santa Clara, California. During the armed conflicts on the late 1850’s and 60’s her family performed as “A Paiute Royal Family”. During a Calvary raid in 1865, 29 Paiutes were killed including Sarah’s mother and other members of her extended family. In 1883 Winnemucca published Life Among the Paiutes: Their Wrongs and Claims. She was posthumously inducted into the Nevada Writer’s Hall of Fame in 1993. She also founded a private school for Native Americans in Lovelock, Nevada. Her death occurred October 16th, 1891.
The Nevada Legislature has proposed that October 16th be known as Sarah Winnemucca Day. AB435 has passed both the Assembly and the Senate and is currently awaiting the signature of Governor Sandoval. It should be noted that the bill passed both houses with unanimous votes. When the Governor signs the bill it will take effect on July 1st, making this year the first year of the celebration. The final vote occurred on the 17th of May, 2017 in the State Senate. The primary sponsor of the bill is the Assembly Committee on Government Affairs.