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Gregg Camfield <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 28 Apr 2011 17:40:47 -0700
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It's entirely possible that the California tribes that Twain disparaged were so culturally alien that Twain found little point of contact.  

It's equally possible that they were too similar and therefore too threatening.  Beginning in late 1861, the "Digger" indians (Paiutes, I believe) in the Owens River valley took up arms against incursions by white cattlemen, who had begun to run cattle in the valley to support the miners in the Esmeralda/Aurora mining district.  The winter of 1861-62 was particularly harsh.  The combination of whites driving off the game and the harsh winter reduced the Paiutes to near starvation (remind anyone of King Philip's War?).  Paiutes began killing cattle, and were attacked by the drovers.  And so the fight began.  The natives were remarkably successful against not only the cattlemen and other locals, but also against U.S. soldiers.  The hostilities finally came to an end by treaty in October of 1862. 

The hostilities lasted much longer than Clemens's stay in the area; after all, Clemens lost his mine both to his inability to afford to work on it and to white claim jumpers.  His fancy speculations failed, and he left the area bitter and embarrassed.  Any way you cut it, this was a period in which Clemens was made miserable by primitive quarters, crummy food, and even lice.  That is, he was experiencing the life he said characterized the "Diggers."  This was a man who could hold a grudge, who could remember misery.  Could it be that he engaged in a bit of projection against an "enemy" whose condition mirrored his own?


----- Original Message -----
From: Scott Holmes <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Thursday, April 28, 2011 4:32 pm
Subject: Re: A Prejudice against Indians
To: [log in to unmask]

> I've reached only as far as Chapter XXIII in my reading/recording of
>  Roughing It and it's been more than a couple of decades since I
>  previously read this book all the way through but I can't recall any
>  mention of Mark being personally attacked by Indians.  As for the
>  Goshoots, his reaction was based on their appearance as seen around the
>  stations and the stories he heard of them from fellow travelers.
>  I still suspect that his main difficulty with Indians, at least Western
>  Indians, is that they were as culturally removed from him as anyone he
>  had ever met or would ever meet.  He could not reconcile those
>  differences with his own sense of values.  Consequently, they became
>  sub-human, brothers of the cayotes and the ravens. Scavengers and
>  harvesters of offal.  And, murderous cowards to boot.
>  It would appear from reports following the thread that we developed no
>  more real interest in them other than the Indian Wars.  But this would
>  no doubt be in relation to the American heroes that did battle with
>  those Indians.