I don't believe Mark Twain's opinion of the American Indian was formed by a couple attacks at stage stops. I grew up in Indian country, not so long ago, and heard the many derisive names and stories about them from quite substantial white citizens, including my mother. When I read Twain's comments on the race, particularly "The Noble Red Man," they were not much different than what I'd been hearing all my life. I believe the characterizations have softened considerably in this era of Civil Rights, but at one time it was quite prevalent throughout the west.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Scott Holmes" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, May 19, 2014 2:37:14 PM
Subject: Mark Twain's cove on Lake Tahoe
I'm a bit surprised to not to see reaction on the recent decision to
table any action for naming a cove on Lake Tahoe after Twain. My
personal feeling is that the Washoe Indians have a much stronger claim
and attaching Twain's name to Lake Tahoe would be a mistake. He didn't
even like the name Tahoe. In every instance of his mentioning it he
would wax poetical about the beauty of the lake and turn poisonous about
the people who lived there.
I recall asking sometime back if Twain ever recanted his hatred for the
native American. I have not seen any instance of this. This is quite
interesting in light of his stands against racism directed at people of
African ancestry and his anti-imperialism related to the Philippines.
It occurs to me that the timing of his travels through Shoshone country,
during the later portion of the so-called Shoshone War may have much to
do with it. He was stopping at stage coach stations every few hours
from St. Joseph to Virginia City, many of which had experienced attacks
by Indians. He was completely unaware of the motivation(s) for these
attacks. He knew only that these strange people with inexplicable
customs were attacking Americans.
Twain aspired to be gentry and the lives of the Shoshones, his
"Goshoots", were just too foreign for him to comprehend.