AN INDIAN GIRL’S LETTER
What the Daughter of a Chief Writes to Commissioner Parker - Treatment of Her People in Nevada.
WASHINGTON, April 15,1870.- Commissioner Parker has just received the following letter from an Indian girl in
Nevada, written in clear and beautiful hand :
CAMP MCDERMOT, Nevada, April 4.
Sir: I learn from the commanding officer at this post that you desire full information in regard to the Indians around
this place, with a view , if possible, of bettering their condition by sending them on the Truckee River Reservation. All
the Indians from here to Carson City belong to the Pah-utes tribe. My father whose name is WINNEMUCCA, is the
head chief of the whole tribe, but he is now getting too old , and has not energy enough to command nor to impress
on their minds the necessity of their being sent on the reservation. In fact, I think he is entirely opposed to it. He ,
myself and the most of the Humboldt and Queens River Indians were on the Truckee Reservation at one time, but if
we had stayed there it would have been only to starve. I think that if they had received what they were entitled to
from the agents that they would never have left there. So far as their knowledge of agriculture extends, they are quite
ignorant , as they have never had an opportunity of learning : but I think if proper pains were taken that they would
willingly make the effort to maintain themselves by their own exertions , providing that they could be made to believe
that the products were to be their own, and for their own use and comfort.
It is needless for me to enter into details as to how we were treated on the reservation while there. It is enough to say
that we were confined to the reserve , and had to live on what fish we might catch in the river. If this is the kind of
civilization awaiting us on the reserve, God grant that we may never be compelled to go on one, as it is more
preferable to live in the mountains, and drag out an existence in our native manner. So far as living is concerned , the
Indians at all military posts get enough to eat, and considerable cast-off clothing, but how long is this to continue ?
What is the object of the government in regard to the Indian ? Is it enough that we are at peace ? Remove all the
Indians from the military posts and place them on the reservations, such as the Truckee and Walker River, ( as they
were conducted ) and it will require a greater military force stationed around to keep them within the limits than now
does to keep them in subjection. On the other hand, if the Indians have any guarantee that they can secure a
permanent home on their own native soil , and that our white neighbors can be kept from encroaching on our rights ,
after having a reasonable share of ground allotted to us as our own and giving us the required advantage of learning ,
&c; I warrant that the savage , as he is called today , will be a law-abiding member of the community fifteen or
twenty years hence.