Chief Winnemucca

Chief Winnemucca

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Winnemucca,(also called Wobitsawahkah, Bad Face, Winnemucca the Younger, Mubetawaka, and Poito), was born a Shoshoni around 1820 in what would later become the Oregon Territory
Oregon Territory
The Territory of Oregon was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from August 14, 1848, until February 14, 1859, when the southwestern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Oregon. Originally claimed by several countries , the region was...

. He married a Kuyuidika woman, the daughter of Old Winnemucca
Truckee (chief)
Truckee was medicine chief of the Northern Paiute and an influential prophet.-Family life:...

, and thus was a Paiute himself by tribal rules. His father-in-law honored him by giving him his own name. Winnemucca or Wuna Mucca has been translated as The Giver of Spiritual Gifts. This name is part-English and part-Paiute
Northern Paiute language
Northern Paiute is a Western Numic language of the Uto-Aztecan family, which according to Marianne Mithun had around 500 fluent speakers in 1994. Ethnologue reported the number of speakers in 1999 as 1,631...

. Winnemucca the Younger became war chief of the Kuyuidika (bird eaters), a Northern Paiute band.

Political life


Winnemucca the Younger became war chief of the Kuyuidika. Unlike his father-in-law, he was distrustful of white settlers.

His role in Northern Paiute politics is difficult to determine and somewhat controversial. He is primarily known through the writings of his daughter, Sarah Winnemucca. She downplayed his Shoshoni roots and connections to distinguish her father and her people as peaceful and to protect them from the prejudice many settlers held against the more warlike "Snake Indians". Sarah exaggerated his influence over the Paiute people, stating that he was the absolute chief of all the Paiute tribes. Due in large part to her role as a translator, this viewpoint was shared by contemporary Oregonians Modern historians and ethnologists view him more as a "first among equals", with considerable influence over the bands in the Pyramid Lake region.

He was a leading proponent of the Pyramid Lake War
Paiute War
The Paiute War, also known as the Pyramid Lake War, Washoe Indian War and the Pah Ute War, was an armed conflict between Northern Paiutes allied with the Shoshone and the Bannock against the United States. It took place in 1860 in the vicinity of Pyramid Lake in the Utah Territory, now within...

 of 1860. However, when the Paviotso Confederacy was first forming at the Ochoco Council of 1851, the Paiute people had been more inclined to listen to his father-in-law, (Old) Chief One Moccasin
Truckee (chief)
Truckee was medicine chief of the Northern Paiute and an influential prophet.-Family life:...

, and keep the peace, than to follow Bad Face's counsel to join the other Shoshone and Northern Ute warriors in the war effort. Later, Bad Face did lead several Paiute units into active fighting, where they would be misidentified as Snake warriors.

At 3:00 am on March 17, 1865, while Sarah Winnemucca and her grandfather, Old Winnemucca were in Dayton, Nevada
Dayton, Nevada
Dayton is a census-designated place in Lyon County, Nevada, United States. The population was 5,907 at the 2000 census.-History:Dayton is at the western end of the Twenty-Six Mile Desert at a bend in the Carson River. Immigrants stopping there for water would consider whether to follow the river...

, Captain Almond Weh's Nevada Volunteer
1st Battalion Nevada Volunteer Cavalry
The 1st Battalion of Nevada Volunteer Cavalry, or the Nevada Territory Cavalry Volunteers, was a unit raised for the Union army during the American Civil War. It remained in the west, garrisoning frontier posts, protecting emigrant routes, and engaged in scouting duties...

 cavalrymen raided their family camp on the shore of Lake Winnemucca. Twenty nine of the 30 old men, women and children in the camp were killed, including two of Old Winnemucca's wives. (Winnemucca the Younger) Bad Face's wife and another daughter were shot, sustaining wounds that eventually killed both of them. They threw Bad Face's baby son, basket cradle and all, into a blazing fire. In 1868 Bad Face surrendered. After that war his influence decreased considerably and he appears to have had little control over the events at the Malheur Reservation
Malheur Reservation
The Malheur Reservation was an Indian reservation in the U.S. state of Oregon from 1872 to 1879.-Establishment:On September 12, 1872, a presidential order set aside the Malheur Indian Reservation in Eastern Oregon for the Northern Paiute...

 in the lead up to the Bannock War
Bannock War
The Bannock War was a series of conflicts in 1878 between various Bannock, Northern Shoshone and Paiute tribes against the United States.- Background :...

 of 1878.

During the winter of 1872-1873, over his daughter's objections, Bad Face refused to go and farm for a living on the Malheur Reservation, where she was staying at the time, saying he might starve there. His hideout was at the base of Steens Mountain
Steens Mountain
Steens Mountain is a large fault-block mountain in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Oregon. Located in Harney County, it stretches some and rises from an elevation of about above the Alvord Desert to its peak at...

, near the Reuben and Dolly Kiger Ranch in what is now Harney County, Oregon
Harney County, Oregon
-National protected areas:*Malheur National Forest *Malheur National Wildlife Refuge*Ochoco National Forest -Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 7,609 people, 3,036 households, and 2,094 families residing in the county. The population density was 1 people per square mile...

.
By 1873, settlers and the government in Oregon had come to worry that the Paiute people under Bad Face might be organizing to join with the more war-inclined Shoshone people under Chochoco (Has No Horse), and that they might either collaborate or unite with their old enemies, the Modoc people, under John Schonchin
Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs
The Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs was an official position of the U.S. state of Oregon, and previously of the Oregon Territory, that existed from 1848–1873.-Background:...

 and Modicus, in what became the Modoc War
Modoc War
The Modoc War, or Modoc Campaign , was an armed conflict between the Native American Modoc tribe and the United States Army in southern Oregon and northern California from 1872–1873. The Modoc War was the last of the Indian Wars to occur in California or Oregon...

.

On April 11, 1873, the Modoc War ended. By 1874, "Winnemucca, the Chief of the Paiutes", eight braves, Sarah, and another of his daughters would grace the stage of the Metropolitan Theater with a series of skits on Indian life, which they performed for five years. As of April 1875, Bad Face was visiting and leaving the Malheur Reservation as he pleased, while that agency was under the comparatively decent Indian agent
Indian agent
In United States history, an Indian agent was an individual authorized to interact with Native American tribes on behalf of the U.S. government.-Indian agents:*Leander Clark was agent for the Sac and Fox in Iowa beginning in 1866....

 Samuel Parrish
Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs
The Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs was an official position of the U.S. state of Oregon, and previously of the Oregon Territory, that existed from 1848–1873.-Background:...

. Parrish had built irrigation canals and a school for the reservation. He had also broadened the limits of the reservation to secure better farmland for the reservation Shoshoni, without any permission to do so, including Pony Blanket
Egan (Paiute)
Egan is the American name given to Pony Blanket. Pony Blanket was a Paiute leader in the Oregon Country in the 19th century.-Early life:Pony Blanket, known to American settlers as Egan, was born to a Cayuse family and did not know his birth mother. He married Evening Star, the sister of Chochoco...

's cultivated land and the Shoshoni's traditional hot springs bath. This caused conflict with powerful local settlers who also wanted that land, including ranchers Henry Miller
Henry Miller
Henry Valentine Miller was an American novelist and painter. He was known for breaking with existing literary forms and developing a new sort of 'novel' that is a mixture of novel, autobiography, social criticism, philosophical reflection, surrealist free association, and mysticism, one that is...

 and Pete French, and so a successful campaign to oust Parrish from the agency ensued.

In early April 1875, Bad Face, Sarah Winnemucca, and Pony Blanket attempted unsuccessfully to persuade officers at Fort Harney
Fort Harney
Fort Harney was a United States Army outpost in eastern Oregon, United States. It was name in honor of Brigadier General William S. Harney. Fort Harney was used as a supply depot and administrative headquarters from 1867 to 1880 during the Army's campaign against Northern Paiute bands in Eastern...

 to help reinstate Parrish, but William V. Rinehart
Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs
The Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs was an official position of the U.S. state of Oregon, and previously of the Oregon Territory, that existed from 1848–1873.-Background:...

 and some of the other wealthy anonymous campaigners fought back, falsely accusing officers at Fort Harney, Fort McDermitt, and Fort Bidwell of supplying food to Shoshoni who refused to stay on the Malheur Reservation empowering them to stay away. Rinehart was the sworn enemy of both the Shoshoni and Paiute, preferring absolute authority and extermination of indigenous people, where possible. Parrish was ultimately replaced by Rinehart, who arrived at the Malheur Reservatin on June 28, 1876, just three days after Custer's fall at Little Bighorn
Battle of the Little Bighorn
The Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as Custer's Last Stand and, by the Indians involved, as the Battle of the Greasy Grass, was an armed engagement between combined forces of Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho people against the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army...

. He began defrauding, starving, and abusing both reservation and non-reservation native people immediately.

Less than a year later, in mid April 1877, Rinehart came to realize that, among other things, Bad Face was Paiute only at his daughter Sarah's insistence.

Following successful political pressure from northeastern Oregon settlers upon the Congress, to overturn President Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

's pact to let the Nez Perce stay in Wallowa, on June 13, 1877 Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph
Chief Joseph
Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, popularly known as Chief Joseph, or Young Joseph was the leader of the Wal-lam-wat-kain band of Nez Perce during General Oliver O. Howard's attempt to forcibly remove his band and the other "non-treaty" Nez Perce to a reservation in Idaho...

 went on the warpath. He killed four white men, after refusing to move some 500 of his people off of their high mountain meadow in the Wallowa Valley to the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

, which was to have included Camas Prairie
Camas prairie
The name camas prairie refers to several distinct geographical areas in the western United States which were named for the native perennial camassia or camas, including regions in the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington...

, but due to a "clerical" error, did not. The Paiutes, who had been leaving the Malheur Reservation to escape both Rinehart and starvation, returned en masse, knowing they would at least be safer at the reservation during wartime. Meanwhile Bad Face and some of his warriors journeyed to Boise City, where they dined as guests of honor with Governor Mason Brayman
Mason Brayman
Mason Brayman was an American attorney, newspaperman, and military officer. During his service to the Union Army during the American Civil War he rose to the rank of Brigadier general. Later in life, he became the seventh Governor of the Idaho Territory.-Early life:Brayman was born in Buffalo,...

 and assured him that Bad Face, Chochoco (Has No Horse), and their people had only peaceful intent. Still, neither would go onto the Malheur Reservation as Rinehart insisted and conditions continued to worsen. Two Shoshoni Snake dog soldiers came to the Malheur Reservation in March 1878 and threatened war as soon as there was grass. Idaho Governor Brayman wrote to US Senator W. J. McConnell
William J. McConnell
William John McConnell was the third Governor of Idaho from 1893 until 1897. Prior to that he represented Idaho as one of its first United States Senators after statehood.-Early years:...

 on their behalf, agreeing that the Shoshoni Banattee Snakes at Fort Hall Reservation had "ample justification" for the methods they pursued, given the ongoing loss of their natural food supply, Camas root
Camassia
Camassia is a genus of six species native to western North America, from southern British Columbia to northern California, and east to Utah, Wyoming and Montana...

, to the settlers hogs.

On June 16, 1878, the Salt Lake City Tribune reported that Laughing Hawk (Tambiago), imprisoned at the Idaho Territorial Penitentiary
Old Idaho State Penitentiary
The Old Idaho Penitentiary State Historic Site, also known as the Idaho Territorial Prison, was constructed in the Territory of Idaho in 1870. The territory was less than ten years old when the prison was built east of Boise, Idaho in the western United States...

, had informed officials there that Buffalo Horn (Kotsotiala) was to meet with Bad Face and Has No Horse in the "Juniper Mountains
Steens Mountain
Steens Mountain is a large fault-block mountain in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Oregon. Located in Harney County, it stretches some and rises from an elevation of about above the Alvord Desert to its peak at...

". That point was ignored by those officials.
On May 27, 1878, after holding a council of war, a second Shoshoni uprising was launched in eastern Oregon with the killing of James Dempsey
James Dempsey
James Dempsey was a Scottish Labour Party politician.Dempsey was educated at Holy Family School, Mossend, the Co-operative College in Loughborough, and at the National Council of Labour Colleges. He was a clerk with a haulage firm and a councillor on Lanarkshire County Council from 1945...

, a white gun dealer who lived in Harney Valley with a Shoshoni wife. He had purchased arms in October 1877 from the Mormons
Mormons
The Mormons are a religious and cultural group related to Mormonism, a religion started by Joseph Smith during the American Second Great Awakening. A vast majority of Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while a minority are members of other independent churches....

 at Salt Lake City and then sold the weapons to the Bannock/Bannatte Robber Snakes, after having for over a year prior urged them to go to war. He then informed Idaho Governor Brayman that war was eminent. The uprising turned into the second Shoshoni War, which the Americans would title the Bannock War
Bannock War
The Bannock War was a series of conflicts in 1878 between various Bannock, Northern Shoshone and Paiute tribes against the United States.- Background :...

. On June 5, Sarah Winnemucca met with Pony Blanket (Egan
Egan (Paiute)
Egan is the American name given to Pony Blanket. Pony Blanket was a Paiute leader in the Oregon Country in the 19th century.-Early life:Pony Blanket, known to American settlers as Egan, was born to a Cayuse family and did not know his birth mother. He married Evening Star, the sister of Chochoco...

), Left Hand, Dancer, and Three Coyotes at the Malheur Indian Agency
Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs
The Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs was an official position of the U.S. state of Oregon, and previously of the Oregon Territory, that existed from 1848–1873.-Background:...

 and learned that the Snake Indians
Snake Indians
Snake Indians is the common name given by American immigrants on the Oregon Trail to the bands of Northern Paiute, Bannock and Shoshone Native Americans in the Snake River and Owyhee River valleys of southern Idaho and Eastern Oregon...

 were being starved out of the Malheur reservation, that they could not buy clothes, and that Paiute horses were being shot. Three Coyotes reported the rape of an Indian girl and the confiscation of weapons and horses at the Fort Hall Reservation. They gathered money to send Sarah to Washington to tell President Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford Birchard Hayes was the 19th President of the United States . As president, he oversaw the end of Reconstruction and the United States' entry into the Second Industrial Revolution...

 of these problems. She left on June 9, 1878 and on that day Captain Reuben Bernard caught up with Black Buffalo and Old Bull near the Oregon-Idaho border, in the process of pulling down telegraph lines to shut off the war zone communications, and he seriously wounded both men. Before the last of the lines were pulled down, General Irvin McDowell
Irvin McDowell
Irvin McDowell was a career American army officer. He is best known for his defeat in the First Battle of Bull Run, the first large-scale battle of the American Civil War.-Early life:...

 got a message through to Bad Face and his son Natchez, asking them to come and help keep the peace with the hostile Snakes at the Malheur Reservation, which both men said they would do. In fact they planned to join the Snakes at war. On June 10, 1878, Congress declared war on the Western Shoshoni Nation.

Bad Face died of poisoning in 1882. The San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
thumb|right|upright|The Chronicle Building following the [[1906 San Francisco earthquake|1906 earthquake]] and fireThe San Francisco Chronicle is a newspaper serving primarily the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California, but distributed throughout Northern and Central California,...

reported that Winnemucca died in October 1882 at Coppersmith Station, Nevada. It further reported that his death was attributed to his being bewitched by his young wife, who was then stoned to death along with their three-year-old child.

Legacy


Winnemucca Indian Colony of Nevada
Winnemucca Indian Colony of Nevada
The Winnemucca Indian Colony of Nevada is a federally recognized tribe of Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone Indians in western Nevada.-Reservation:...

, Winnemucca Lake
Winnemucca Lake
Winnemucca Lake, just east of Pyramid Lake in the northwestern portion of the U.S. state of Nevada is on the dividing line between Washoe County and Pershing County counties.- Geography :...

, Winnemucca Mountain, and the city of Winnemucca, Nevada
Winnemucca, Nevada
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 7,174 people, 2,736 households, and 1,824 families residing in the city. The population density was 867.5 people per square mile . There were 3,280 housing units at an average density of 396.6 per square mile...

 are named after Winnemucca. His eldest son Natchez and nephew Numaga were known to whites as Little Winnemucca and Young Winnemucca, respectively.

See also