A Story of Encounters: Struggles for Control

With the influx of aspiring miners and assorted entrepreneurs to the Comstock in the years after 1859, conflict with the area’s native inhabitants was perhaps inevitable. Tensions ignited the Pyramid Lake War of 1860, followed by the establishment of numerous U.S. Army forts including Fort Churchill. Such outposts were intended to protect early emigrants and settlers from threats including potential attacks from neighboring Indians. Acts of aggression and violence proved infrequent, however, and all government forts closed by 1890

Nevada’s only territorial governor, James Warren Nye, won praise from Indians including Sarah Winnemucca for working closely with the Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone tribes. Also working toward peaceful solutions were “Indian agents” like Warren Wasson—non-natives hired by the federal government to help establish treaties and resolve disputes over land.

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