chapter  2
Rape Narratives on the Northern Paiute Frontier: Sarah Winnemucca, Sexual Sovereignty, and Economic Autonomy, 1844–1891
Pages 25

In April 1860, while Northern Paiute elders and leaders met in council at Pyramid Lake to determine how best to respond to the non-Indian invasion of their homeland and the destruction of their resource base, Northern Paiute families carried on their day-to-day subsistence work as best they could. Searching for one of their most important food sources, two young Northern Paiute women gathered roots near Williams’s Station, a settlers’ trading post. Several white men seized the girls, dragged them into a barn, and repeatedly gang raped them. The men, Oscar Williams, David Williams, Samuel Sullivan, and John Flemming, held the young women captive, and when the girls’ families came searching for them, the men denied having seen them and threatened to shoot whoever continued to scout around their homestead for evidence of the girls. Their posturing was ineffective, however; the Northern Paiute men heard their women’s screaming, and they would retaliate.1