Response 1: Sarah Winnemucca
There is no doubt that Sarah Winnemucca is one of the most interesting and recognizable women of the 19th century. In today’s society, one can hardly find a young person committed to fighting for the rights of others. In fact, today’s campaigns or rights movements comprise of averagely old adults who feel that they have seen enough of the harsh treatments by governments in particular targeting community members. However, the situation in the 19th century was different since activists were primarily young people as seen in the example of Sarah Winnemucca. As a Paiute Indian, she was on the receiving end of the harsh treatment and aggression of the white settlers at the time (Scherer, 1988). This is highlighted by the fact that she was forced to leave her reservation on the California-Nevada border living as a nomad with her family in the subsequent years. Her struggle and commitment stand out because that was a period when women, particularly those with Indian roots, had little to no input in societal matters. She promoted an image of a strong and daring woman, and this largely worked against her limiting her credibility before the white settlers. What also makes her story interesting is the fact that she stuck to traditional culture and beliefs despite the civilization pushed and introduced by white settlers, a perspective that can hardly be seen among women in today’s society. A view of her portraits of 1879-1884 reveals a woman dressed in decorated and elaborated costumes believed to have been of her own making. Her clothing comprised of single or double skirt made of rushes, bird or mammal skills, woven sagebrush bark, and moccasins (Scherer, 1988). Despite knowing that she could not win the war against the white settlers, she pressed on. Such levels of courage cannot be seen among women today.
Response 2: Margaret Fuller
Margaret Fuller stood out as the “best-read” person in New England in the 19th century. The way she lived reflects one strong woman who could go an extra mile to prove who she was. Her struggle and commitment are evident when she attended college despite not having the permission to do so (Fuller, 2000). She was way above other young men and women in society at the time given her introduction to language and cultural study. For a long time, women have had a rough time competing against men in terms from the education perspective. The fact that Fuller was more educated than men of her age remains a mystery. At her age, she felt that she could not be in the company of women as she had a big dream, that of pushing for equality between men and women. When sent to a school for women at the age of fourteen, acclimating herself to the school’s and classmates’ standards was difficult (Fuller, 2000). This is different to the experiences of young girls in society today. Instead of thinking of greater things such as equality between men and women, young girls focus on promoting their image. This is largely evident with the advent of the Internet that has seen young girls and women spend most of their time engaging in social interaction rather than fighting for more significant things. Fuller was among the few women in the 19th century who wrote books with her best book being known as “Woman in the Nineteenth Century.”
Fuller, M. (2000). Margaret Fuller. The American Renaissance in New England, second series, 223, 155. Retrieved from https://www.macmillanlearning.com/Catalog/uploadedFiles/Content/BSM/Product/TOC/belasco_fuller.pdf
Scherer, J. C. (1988). The public faces of Sarah Winnemucca. Cultural Anthropology, 3(2), 178-204. Retrieved from onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/can.1988.3.2.02a00040/pdf