The story that Winnemucca tells in Life among the Piutes
was the same story she told to countless white Americans who came to her public speaking engagements, which were really performance pieces, reenacting through the dramatic art of storytelling the events and travesties that the Paiute were enduring under the pressures of westward expansion.
Offering perhaps the fullest historic contextualization among the essayists here, Rodier likens this support for Life among the Piutes
(1883) to the sponsorships Lydia Maria Child and Harriet Beecher Stowe had earlier undertaken on behalf of racial "Others"; and she further positions it amidst the Native American land crisis of the 1880s with particular reference to Helen Hunt Jackson's fervent advocacy in Century of Dishonor (1881) and Ramona (1884).
For example, through quotations of his words in letters to General Howard and the Commisioner of Indian Affairs, Zanjani creates a portrait of Agent Rinehart that is even more vile than the one limned in Life Among the Piutes
In 1883, she published Life among the Piutes, often referred to as the first autobiography written by an American Indian woman.
Zanjani adheres closely to the structure of Winnemucca's own Life Among the Piutes, the document she cites most.
But Life Among the Piutes reveals a constant tension between non-Native readers' expectations and Paiute values.
In her preface to Sarah Winnemucca's Life Among the Piutes (1883), editor Mary Mann claims that Winnemucca's authority stems from her position between Indian and white cultures:
As she herself declares in Life Among the Piutes, "I am sorry to say these Indian interpreters, who are often half-breeds, easily get corrupted, and can be hired by the agents to do or say anything" (91).
Bataille and Kathleen Mullen Sands extend a similar critique to Life Among the Piutes, faulting the narrative for its "acculturated and Christianized" bias: it is, in other words, too "white" (21).