Column: Paiute war chief Numaga took an active stand for peace

Numaga, circa 1830. Photo from National Archives and Records Administration

Historian Laura Tennant on the life and times of Paiute war chief Numaga:
A photograph of the 6-foot tall Numaga, dressed in native buckskin hunting attire, displays his good looks. Described as "a slender man with strong features, a broad mouth and chin, and Roman nose," Numaga looked like a warrior and had inherited his grandfather Truckee's finest characteristics, including his stature and intelligence.

"His honor among the whites was never questioned because he was always ready to council rather than use bows and arrows," wrote Ruth Hermann in "Pyramid Lake Paiutes."

Seeing countless numbers of white folk settling in western Nevada (Utah territory), Numaga realized his people would fare better living peacefully with them. While warriors called for battle, Numaga rode from camp to camp, pleading for peace. His pleas were ignored.

Frustrated, the 30-year-old Numaga laid on the ground face down three days, as if dead. Doing so, he warned his people of their dismal future if they attacked settlers. He was ridiculed and called a paleface with a white heart. Some warriors threatened to kill him.

Despite his passionate plea, the council declared war. Numaga walked through the circle of warriors, warning: "...like the sands in the bed of the rivers; when taken away they will only give place for more to come ... they will come like sand in a whirlwind and drive you from you from your homes."

Get the Story:
Laura Tennant: Paiute's Numaga worth noting (The Mason Valley News 2/1)

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