Vision 2020 Celebrates Sarah Winnemucca

During Women’s History Month, Vision 2020 is highlighting women who are represented in the U.S. Capitol Statuary Hall with a bust or full statue. Of the 100 statues sponsored by the states, only 11 women are depicted – including the recent addition of Rosa Parks. Vision 2020 Delegates will share their reflections on the women from their respective states represented in the U.S. Capitol.

McCreary Winnemucca statue

Nevada Delegate Gina McCreary  comments on the significance of Sarah Winnemucca:

The bronze statue depicts Sarah Winnemucca as she looked around the age of 35, with hair falling to her waist. She wears a dress adorned with fringe that swirls as if windswept; this and her stance impart a sense of movement.  In her left arm she holds a book at her side, and in her right hand she holds a shellflower, representative of her Paiute name. The statue of Sarah Winnemucca is Nevada’s second statue in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall.

Sarah’s life is a story of firsts. She was the first female Native American to write a book. She set up Nevada’s first school for Native American children. And she was one of the first individuals to navigate between her own culture and the settlers.

The statue of Sarah Winnemucca signifies the first individual female recognition in the state of Nevada.  There are memorials in the state of Nevada, most of them honor the women of WWII & a special statue in Sparks, NV with a police officer and little girl.  This statue of Sarah Winnemucca will forever recognize this remarkable woman that changed the course of history and we celebrate that she began her journey in our Silver State in 1844, before it became know as the State of Nevada.

The U.S. Capitol Statuary Hall Biography of Sarah Winnemucca:

Sarah Winnemucca (1844–1891) was a member of the Paiute tribe born in what would later become the state of Nevada. She was the daughter of the Chief Winnemucca and granddaughter of Chief Truckee. Her Paiute name was Thocmetony (or Tocmetoni), which means “shellflower”; it is not known why or when she took the name Sarah. Having a great facility with languages, she served as an interpreter and negotiator between her people and the U.S. Army. In 1878 when the Bannock Indians revolted and were being pursued by the U.S. Army under General Oliver Howard’s command, Sarah volunteered for a dangerous mission. Locating her father’s band being forcibly held by the Bannocks, she secretly led them away to army protection in a three-day ride over 230 miles of rugged terrain with little food or rest.

As a spokesperson for her people, she gave over 300 speeches to win support for them, and she met with President Rutherford B. Hayes and Secretary of the Interior Carl Schurz in 1880. Her 1883 autobiography, Life among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims, was the first book written by a Native American woman. She started a school for Native Americans, where she taught children both in their native language and in English. She was married at least twice, first to Lieutenant Edward C. Bartlett and later to Lewis H. Hopkins. Sarah Winnemucca died in 1891.

A plaque affixed to the pedestal reads

Sarah Winnemucca
Defender of Human rights
Author of first book by a Native woman

The Rosa Parks statue increases the number of historic women’s statues and busts to a paltry 11. There are more than 90 men represented. During Women’s History Month, Vision 2020 wants to know who is YOUR CHOICE for the next statue.Vote in the Vision 2020 poll for your choice for the next woman to be honored. Vision 2020 will submit the results to Congress.

About equalityinsight

Vision 2020 is a national coalition of organizations and individuals united in their commitment to achieve women’s economic and social equality. Join Vision 2020 today!
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