Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins (c. 1844 – October 17, 1891) was a Northern Paiute author, activist (lecturer) and educator (school organizer). Her maiden name is Winnemucca. Her Northern Paiute name was Thocmentony, also spelled Tocmetone, which translates as “Shell Flower.”
At 27, Sarah began working in the Bureau of Indian Affairs at Fort McDermitt in 1871 as an interpreter.
Subsequently, Winnemucca became an advocate for the rights of Native Americans, traveling across the US to tell Anglo-Americans about the plight of her people. When the Paiute were interned in a concentration camp at Yakima, Washington after the Bannock War, she traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress and the executive branch for their release. She also served US forces as a messenger, interpreter, and guide, and as a teacher for imprisoned Native Americans.
Winnemucca published Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims (1883), a book that is both a memoir and history of her people during their first 40 years of contact with European Americans. It is considered the “first known autobiography written by a Native American woman.” Anthropologist Omer Stewart described it as “one of the first and one of the most enduring ethnohistorical books written by an American Indian,” frequently cited by scholars. Following the publication of the book, Winnemucca toured the Eastern United States, giving lectures about her people in New England, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. She returned to the West, founding a private school for Native American children in Lovelock, Nevada.