WVU English professor to present at Native American Indigenous Studies Association Conference in June
Sarah Winnemucca, a 19th century Northern Paiute woman who dedicated her life to improving the living conditions for American Indians in the West, was known for her activism.
While her life has been documented in a loose autobiography in the past, a new book by West Virginia University English professor Cari Carpenter illustrates nearly 30 years of the icon’s life and fills in gaps in Winnemucca’s fascinating history.
“The Newspaper Warrior: Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins’ Campaign for American Indian Rights, 1864-1891,” will be published in June.
“It’s really exciting to get it all put together and have a more complete picture of both how she was represented, which was often in a pretty negative way, and more importantly how she presented herself and tried to achieve American Indian rights,” said Carpenter, who co-edited the book with Carolyn Sorisio, an English professor at West Chester University.
The book contains newspaper articles by and about Sarah Winnemucca, who gave more than 400 speeches in support of the Paiutes, and opened a school for Paiute children called the Peabody’s Institute near Lovelock, Nevada.
Her book, “Life Among the Piutes,” was a loose autobiography and the first book written by a Native American woman to ever be published. In it she records the history of the Paiutes and reaches out for readers to understand her people.
Carpenter will present the book and its accompanying website at the Native American Indigenous Studies Association Conference in June. The interdisciplinary conference is the largest in its field, and brings in many people from different fields to present.
Carpenter’s panel will focus on teaching with the book and website in the classroom. It will show teachers how to use the book as a resource for Native American activism, 19th century newspaper articles and Winnemucca’s life.
The website that accompanies the book is still being developed by Beth Staley, an intern working on her Ph.D. in English Literature, and will be an archive that contains newspaper articles by and about Winnemucca that do not appear in the book. Many of these articles have only appeared recently, and were not able to make it into the book.
“We’re hoping to keep up on that and really have an active resource for people to come to if they’re teaching or doing research in the area,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter also hopes to include an unpublished transcript of Winnemucca’s 1884 presentation to a House subcommittee in Washington D.C.
“That’s something that really hasn’t been available, except to the few scholars who have bothered to track it down,” said Carpenter. “So, it’s something that I think would be really exciting to have.”
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