Pyramid Lake, The Pyramid Lake War

The Pyramid Lake War – The Conflict That Forced The Northern Paiute Indians Off Of Their Ancient Lands

On May 5, 1860, after Northen Paiute Indians killed five men and burned the William’s Stop, a Pony Express site, to the ground. In response to the murders and the destruction of a crucial Pony Express site, the Williams brothers kidnapped and raped two Northen Paiute Indians.

On May 12th, 1860, the first battle of the Pyramid Lake War, also known as the Paiute War, the Washoe Indian War and the Pah Ute War, occurred after settlers, who had immigrated from the United States, banded together to retaliate against the destruction of the Pony Express stop, that was established in the Nevada territory. Northern Paiutes Indians allied with the Shoshone and the Bannock Indians against the Nevada settlers to secure a victory in the First Battle of Pyramid Lake.

Numaga, the chief of the Northern Paiutes who was also known as Young Winnemucca, advised against war and prophetically claimed that:

“They will come like the sand in a whirlwind and drive you from your homes. You will be forced among the barren rocks of the north, where your ponies will die; where you will see the women and old men starve, and listen to the cries of your children for food.”

While Numaga, called for peace he prepared his people for an armed conflict before the start of the two battles, of the Pyramid Lake War, that ensued.

Photograph of Numaga at the Pyramid Lake Museum.

After the Second Battle of Pyramid Lake, Numaga’s prediction came to pass and his people were forced off of their lands, around Pyramid Lake, and onto reservations in Oregon and Washington.

In present time, two Nevada historical markers indicate a site of where part of the two battles, of the Pyramid Lake War, occurred.

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