Sarah Winnemucca

From the provided selection from Life Among the Paiutes, the situation that Sarah Winnemucca found herself in is clearly illustrated. She is a representative of the government, and must be its voice among her people. However, she is powerless to affect any of the decisions coming from that government, which causes her people to distrust and ignore her.

In just a few pages, horrors are detailed. The government requires her people to move in the middle of winter, hauled in wagons like cattle and, upon arrival, treated not even as well as cattle would be, for cattle would be cared for to insure that they survived the winter. Sarah's people were treated as if the less of them survived, the better.

I think the title of the work itself is telling, for Winnemucca does not claim to be of the Paiutes, but merely among them. She takes the place of an observer rather than a participant. As a rhetorical strategy, it helps to make the reader feel more empathy for her, since they, too, would not be Paiute for the most part. And the more the reader identifies with the narrator, the more they might be willing to accept what she writes as truth.

She challenges her audience to live by the Christian values that they identify with. Repeatedly, she points out that any who seem to be helping her people are not doing it out of charity, but for money. "They did not come because they loved us, or because they were Christians. No; they were just like all civilized people; they came to take us up there because they were to be paid for it" (162). At the same time that she wants to draw attention to the plight of her people, she also does not want to alienate her audience. That does not stop her from pointing out these hypocrisies, but what concessions might she have made in her writing in order to try and get some message through? Must all those who suffer compromise in their communications in order to ensure that some will listen without becoming defensive?

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