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  • Mark Twain, Indian Hater

    I don't know if any of you have seen this before but....

    I'm sitting here right now, absolutely nauseated by the fame and
    heroic persona attributed to the American author Mark Twain, the PBS
    special about him is on right now, and I honestly just want to puke
    and here is but one reason why....yes he did write this, among many
    other racist pieces of garbage about Indian people...he is NOT a hero

    You must read the WHOLE thing to understand what I mean

    The Noble Red Man

    by Mark Twain
    First published in The Galaxy 1870



    In books he is tall and tawny, muscular, straight and of kingly
    presence; he has a beaked nose and an eagle eye.

    His hair is glossy, and as black as the raven's wing; out of its
    massed richness springs a sheaf of brilliant feathers; in his ears
    and nose are silver ornaments; on his arms and wrists and ankles are
    broad silver bands and bracelets; his buckskin hunting suit is
    gallantly fringed, and the belt and the moccasins wonderfully
    flowered with colored beads; and when, rainbowed with his war-paint,
    he stands at full height, with his crimson blanket wrapped about him,
    his quiver at his back, his bow and tomahawk projecting upward from
    his folded arms, and his eagle eye gazing at specks against the far
    horizon which even the paleface's field-glass could scarcely reach,
    he is a being to fall down and worship.

    His language is intensely figurative. He never speaks of the moon,
    but always of "the eye of the night;" nor of the wind as the wind,
    but as "the whisper of the Great Spirit;" and so forth and so on. His
    power of condensation is marvelous. In some publications he seldom
    says anything but "Waugh!" and this, with a page of explanation by
    the author, reveals a whole world of thought and wisdom that before
    lay concealed in that one little word.

    He is noble. He is true and loyal; not even imminent death can shake
    his peerless faithfulness. His heart is a well-spring of truth, and
    of generous impulses, and of knightly magnanimity. With him,
    gratitude is religion; do him a kindness, and at the end of a
    lifetime he has not forgotten it. Eat of his bread, or offer him
    yours, and the bond of hospitality is sealed--a bond which is forever
    inviolable with him.

    He loves the dark-eyed daughter of the forest, the dusky maiden of
    faultless form and rich attire, the pride of the tribe, the all-
    beautiful. He talks to her in a low voice, at twilight of his deeds
    on the war-path and in the chase, and of the grand achievements of
    his ancestors; and she listens with downcast eyes, "while a richer
    hue mantles her dusky cheek."

    Such is the Noble Red Man in print. But out on the plains and in the
    mountains, not being on dress parade, not being gotten up to see
    company, he is under no obligation to be other than his natural self,
    and therefore:

    He is little, and scrawny, and black, and dirty; and, judged by even
    the most charitable of our canons of human excellence, is thoroughly
    pitiful and contemptible. There is nothing in his eye or his nose
    that is attractive, and if there is anything in his hair that--
    however, that is a feature which will not bear too close
    examination . . . He wears no bracelets on his arms or ankles; his
    hunting suit is gallantly fringed, but not intentionally; when he
    does not wear his disgusting rabbit-skin robe, his hunting suit
    consists wholly of the half of a horse blanket brought over in the
    Pinta or the Mayflower, and frayed out and fringed by inveterate use.
    He is not rich enough to possess a belt; he never owned a moccasin or
    wore a shoe in his life; and truly he is nothing but a poor, filthy,
    naked scurvy vagabond, whom to exterminate were a charity to the
    Creator's worthier insects and reptiles which he oppresses. Still,
    when contact with the white man has given to the Noble Son of the
    Forest certain cloudy impressions of civilization, and aspirations
    after a nobler life, he presently appears in public with one boot on
    and one shoe--shirtless, and wearing ripped and patched and
    buttonless pants which he holds up with his left hand--his execrable
    rabbit-skin robe flowing from his shoulder--an old hoop-skirt on,
    outside of it--a necklace of battered sardine-boxes and oyster-cans
    reposing on his bare breast--a venerable flint-lock musket in his
    right hand--a weather-beaten stove-pipe hat on, canted "gallusly" to
    starboard, and the lid off and hanging by a thread or two; and when
    he thus appears, and waits patiently around a saloon till he gets a
    chance to strike a "swell" attitude before a looking-glass, he is a
    good, fair, desirable subject for extermination if ever there was
    one.

    There is nothing figurative, or moonshiny, or sentimental about his
    language. It is very simple and unostentatious, and consists of
    plain, straightforward lies. His "wisdom" conferred upon an idiot
    would leave that idiot helpless indeed.

    He is ignoble--base and treacherous, and hateful in every way. Not
    even imminent death can startle him into a spasm of virtue. The
    ruling trait of all savages is a greedy and consuming selfishness,
    and in our Noble Red Man it is found in its amplest development. His
    heart is a cesspool of falsehood, of treachery, and of low and
    devilish instincts. With him, gratitude is an unknown emotion; and
    when one does him a kindness, it is safest to keep the face toward
    him, lest the reward be an arrow in the back. To accept of a favor
    from him is to assume a debt which you can never repay to his
    satisfaction, though you bankrupt yourself trying. To give him a
    dinner when he is starving, is to precipitate the whole hungry tribe
    upon your hospitality, for he will go straight and fetch them, men,
    women, children, and dogs, and these they will huddle patiently
    around your door, or flatten their noses against your window, day aft
    er day, gazing beseechingly upon every mouthful you take, and
    unconsciously swallowing when you swallow! The scum of the earth!

    And the Noble Son of the Plains becomes a mighty hunter in the due
    and proper season. That season is the summer, and the prey that a
    number of the tribes hunt is crickets and grasshoppers! The warriors,
    old men, women, and children, spread themselves abroad in the plain
    and drive the hopping creatures before them into a ring of fire. I
    could describe the feast that then follows, without missing a detail,
    if I thought the reader would stand it.

    All history and honest observation will show that the Red Man is a
    skulking coward and a windy braggart, who strikes without warning--
    usually from an ambush or under cover of night, and nearly always
    bringing a force of about five or six to one against his enemy; kills
    helpless women and little children, and massacres th e men in their
    beds; and then brags about it as long as he lives, and his son and
    his grandson and great-grandson after him glorify it among
    the "heroic deeds of their ancestors." A regiment of Fenians will
    fill the whole world with the noise of it when they are getting ready
    invade Canada; but when the Red Man declares war, the first
    intimation his friend the white man whom he supped with at twilight
    has of it, is when the war-whoop rings in his ears and tomahawk sinks
    into his brain. . ..

    The Noble Red Man seldom goes prating loving foolishness to a
    splendidly caparisoned blushing maid at twilight. No; he trades a
    crippled horse, or a damaged musket, or a dog, or a gallon of
    grasshoppers, and an inefficient old mother for her, and makes her
    work like an abject slave all the rest of her life to compensate him
    for the outlay. He never works himself. She builds the habitation,
    when they use one (it consists in hanging half a dozen rags over the
    weather side of a sage-brush bush to roost under); gathers and brings
    home the fuel; takes care of the raw-boned pony when they possess
    such grandeur; she walks and carries her nursing cubs while he rides.
    She wears no clothing save the fragrant rabbit-skin robe which her
    great-grandmother before her wore, and all the "blushing" she does
    can be removed with soap and a towel, provided it is only four or
    five weeks old and not caked.

    Such is the genuine Noble Aborigine. I did not get him from books,
    but from personal observation.

  • #2
    Ah yes the "noble savage" stereotype. Gotta remember Mark Twain probably thought he was being "honorable" with all of those accolades.

    That "tall/tawny/straight/muscular" bit must've been from the Pre Frybread Era.
    "Friends don't let friends drink decaf..."
    Wakalapi's $49 unlimited phone service www.49deal.com

    Comment


    • #3
      All the "Nice" stuff he says about Indians in the beginning of the essay is not stuff he believes to be true.

      He was making fun of Romantic literature, most particularly that of James Fenimore Cooper, author of Last of the Mohicans.

      He was condemning the fact that Romantic authors had painted a somewhat "Noble" picture of American Indians.

      Later in the essay he gives his personal opinion of Indian people being "dirty" "scrawny" "infested with vermin" and basically his view that they were worthless dregs of society that needed to be exterminated.

      This is why at the end of his essay he states

      "This is the true american aborigine, I did not get him from books but from personal observation"

      Comment


      • #4
        That season is the summer, and the prey that a
        number of the tribes hunt is crickets and grasshoppers! The warriors, old men, women, and children, spread themselves abroad in the plain and drive the hopping creatures before them into a ring of fire. I could describe the feast that then follows...
        Okay ... so we're the Essenes?
        "Friends don't let friends drink decaf..."
        Wakalapi's $49 unlimited phone service www.49deal.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Beleive me, Twains opinion is shared by 80 of all white people, even mixed bloods.
          BUT, if I was to describe JEWS to you, based upon seeing them leaving Aushwitz at the end of WWII, the description might be the same.
          Made to be beggers by the USA, we performed that role well.
          Now, what will our generation do to take america back?
          By the way, I know a few very nasty white folks as well, some named Twain.
          Mark may have actually put a curse on his ancestors with his words.
          ------------------
          " We beseech and demand... that you accept the Church and the Superior Organization of the whole world and recognize the supreme Pontiff, called the Pope, and that in his name you acknowledge the King and Queen... his representatives, as the lords and superior authorities of these islands and main lands...
          If you do not do this, or resort maliciously to delay, we warn you that, with the aid of God, we will enter your land against you with force and will make war in every place and by every means we can and are able, and we will then subject you to the yoke and authority of the church and of their Highnesses.
          We will take you and your wives and children and make them slaves...
          And we will take your property and will do you all the harm and evil we can..."

          --The Requerimiento (read by Spanish Conquistadors to the people of the "New World" )

          Comment


          • #6
            ok thiz iz gonna sound stupid but who iz he

            Comment


            • #7
              If ever a white person, especially mixed bloods who live in the white world, look white, and pass for white, these quotes from the first great American author, Mark Twain, should open your eyes to the way people treated, and still treat, the Native people of America.
              "I said there was nothing so convincing to an Indian as a general massacre. If he could not approve of the massacre, I said the next surest thing for an Indian was soap and education. Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run; because a half-massacred Indian may recover, but if you educate him and wash him, it is bound to finish him some time or other."
              Ugly stuff, and it opens your eyes to the mountain of a rock on the top of every red blood who walks today. Also, it gives some explanation on how the parents of a half breed child would , for the child's survival, might want to encourage the child to pass for white if he or she could.

              need more reasons to shudder....
              "...knowledge of Indians, & humanity are seldom found in the same individual."

              But, before we scalp poor Twain, we must remember, as a writer, he was trained to write all thoughts, all ideas, and all observations.
              If I was to have you read all my thoughts, all my ideas, and all my observations, you would surely have my scalp as well as many other friends.
              He was human, as we are.
              He wrote.
              He made mistakes, as all of our leaders have.
              His voices for tolerance should not be discounted in reviewing the evidence.
              "My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions or its officeholders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death."

              A very good source on facts about Mr. Twain is Barbara Schmidt.
              Her email is

              [email protected]

              and this is her website

              http://www.twainquotes.com/index.html

              We are each responsible for our path, and that means we are responsible for our own education.
              Surely one quote taken from all our lives, would not be what our total worth is.
              God I hope not.
              Casey
              ------------------
              " We beseech and demand... that you accept the Church and the Superior Organization of the whole world and recognize the supreme Pontiff, called the Pope, and that in his name you acknowledge the King and Queen... his representatives, as the lords and superior authorities of these islands and main lands...
              If you do not do this, or resort maliciously to delay, we warn you that, with the aid of God, we will enter your land against you with force and will make war in every place and by every means we can and are able, and we will then subject you to the yoke and authority of the church and of their Highnesses.
              We will take you and your wives and children and make them slaves...
              And we will take your property and will do you all the harm and evil we can..."

              --The Requerimiento (read by Spanish Conquistadors to the people of the "New World" )

              Comment


              • #8
                I just had a contact with a nice woman who told me this.....
                "Casey,

                The Native American race was one that Twain had more prejudice
                against than any other. While his writings were sympathetic
                to other races, Indians were usually the object of much invective.
                There is a good discussion of these attitudes in the reference book
                MARK TWAIN A TO Z by R. Kent Rasmussen. If you have access to it,
                you will find that entry very helpful. There is evidence
                that Twain's attitudes toward Indians did tend to mellow during
                his latter years.

                The Mark Twain scholar and researcher who has done the most work
                on Twain and Indians is Kerry Driscoll. Her contact information
                can be found at:

                http://www.sjc.edu/content.cfm/pageid/210

                Best regards,
                Barbara Schmidt"
                ------------------
                " We beseech and demand... that you accept the Church and the Superior Organization of the whole world and recognize the supreme Pontiff, called the Pope, and that in his name you acknowledge the King and Queen... his representatives, as the lords and superior authorities of these islands and main lands...
                If you do not do this, or resort maliciously to delay, we warn you that, with the aid of God, we will enter your land against you with force and will make war in every place and by every means we can and are able, and we will then subject you to the yoke and authority of the church and of their Highnesses.
                We will take you and your wives and children and make them slaves...
                And we will take your property and will do you all the harm and evil we can..."

                --The Requerimiento (read by Spanish Conquistadors to the people of the "New World" )

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by JUS ME
                  ok thiz iz gonna sound stupid but who iz he
                  an author who wrote the adventures of tom sawyer and huckleberry finn
                  Oh yeah, I used to know Quentin...He's a real...He's a real Jerky

                  ~Flat Beat~

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Wakalapi, I think some of Twain's comments on dietary habits probably came from his incomplete knowledge of the diet of Plateau and Basin peoples like the Paiutes who lived in an area of the country rather low on natural resources. They were undoubtedly a hardy people well equipped to survive in their native homeland, but rather than being praised for having done so they and other tribes that lived in the same area are condemned by Twain as being filthy, dirty, savages and etc.

                    As for attempting to justify any of what Twain said, like a great many native people I tire of the rhetoric of "not judging them by the standards of our day" this is the same tired excuse that's repeatedly being used by proponents of the Columbus Day Parade.

                    However, as history has aptly pointed out, the two most outspoken critics of Columbus's policy were Bartolome de Las Casas and Francisco de Vitoria, both white men who lived during the same period in time as Columbus, proving definitively that human rights was just as much a 15th century issue as it is a 21st century issue.

                    When it comes to Twain, though his ideas and hatred toward Indians was popular during the period we do NOT have to, nor should we excuse what he wrote simply because it was the ideology he was raised with. There were plenty of people who transcended the racism and ignorance of their own day that disagreed with and spoke out against the likes of Twain and their spreading this racist garbage and further warping the mind of the Anglo American populace.

                    These people however, like Bartolome de Las Casas and Francisco de Vitoria, are relegated to the realm of historical obscurity, because in this twisted society we would apparently rather celebrate the legacy of genocidal maniacs like Columbus, Balboa, Juan De Onate, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Christopher "Kit" Carson and the like, rather than people who befriended and tried to protect their native friends like Thomas Keam, Henry Linn Dodge, or Sir William Johnson.

                    Twain knew, somewhere in his heart, that what he was doing was fundamentally wrong, and he could have, had he taken the initiative, learned from his non-racist contemporaries, (thought hey were admittedly few) that Indian people are human beings with basic human rights that all should respect, no matter period of history we're speaking of. He however, decided instead to accept the popular and disgusting racist belief and put that garbage down as literature.

                    It is therefore fundamentally wrong to celebrate Twain as any kind of hero, literary or otherwise, that's not to say that there isn't American Literature and writers of an early period that are not worthy of note or praise, their certainly are, they are those who were not racist genocidal maniacs like Twain. Several times in his writings he called for the extermination of the entire Indigenous race, why on earth would any Indian in their right mind encourage their Indian children to read his garbage or attend a school where it is taught that he was a good man?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I agree with you 100%.

                      To say that Mark Twain is a great auther just on the popularity of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer is like saying, "Windows ME is great software, look at how many people use it."

                      I guess it's all in the marketing.
                      "Friends don't let friends drink decaf..."
                      Wakalapi's $49 unlimited phone service www.49deal.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well, we can bowl this all down to this.
                        WE, the americans, must change our attitude about the colonialists.
                        Their lease is up, and we are not going to renew it.
                        what if we cleansed ourselves, and went before God, and asked to have the Americas given back to the americans.
                        God would love the chance to smack sum white ***, and sum red, brown, yellow, and black azz as well.
                        ------------------
                        " We beseech and demand... that you accept the Church and the Superior Organization of the whole world and recognize the supreme Pontiff, called the Pope, and that in his name you acknowledge the King and Queen... his representatives, as the lords and superior authorities of these islands and main lands...
                        If you do not do this, or resort maliciously to delay, we warn you that, with the aid of God, we will enter your land against you with force and will make war in every place and by every means we can and are able, and we will then subject you to the yoke and authority of the church and of their Highnesses.
                        We will take you and your wives and children and make them slaves...
                        And we will take your property and will do you all the harm and evil we can..."

                        --The Requerimiento (read by Spanish Conquistadors to the people of the "New World" )

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Kituhwa
                          These people however, like Bartolome de Las Casas and Francisco de Vitoria, are relegated to the realm of historical obscurity, because in this twisted society we would apparently rather celebrate the legacy of genocidal maniacs like Columbus, Balboa, Juan De Onate, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Christopher "Kit" Carson and the like, rather than people who befriended and tried to protect their native friends like Thomas Keam, Henry Linn Dodge, or Sir William Johnson.

                          Twain knew, somewhere in his heart, that what he was doing was fundamentally wrong, and he could have, had he taken the initiative, learned from his non-racist contemporaries, (thought hey were admittedly few) that Indian people are human beings with basic human rights that all should respect, no matter period of history we're speaking of. He however, decided instead to accept the popular and disgusting racist belief and put that garbage down as literature.
                          Was I suprised to take a break from studying for my Mesoamerican Civ exam and come on here, to see de las Casas! He's not relegated to historical obscurity! I'm busy studying about him for a final exam as we speak!

                          Also, keep in mind that Twain's literature is full of stereotypical portrays of blacks as well-- he wasn't just prejudiced against Indians.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            What I meant was, that FOR THE MOST part, men like Las Casas are not mentioned in the historical literature.

                            Actually, its typically only Indians whom I encounter that have even heard of him, and many Indians don't even know about him.

                            But other names that I've mentioned like Francisco de Vitoria, an outspoken advocate of Indigenous Rights that taught at the University of Salamanca around the same period as Columbus' genocidal introduction of the "encomienda" systemo f Indian slavery in the Indies, most people I encounter, unless they've some kind of involvement in the local Columbus Day Parade Protest, have absolutely no idea who Vitoria is.

                            And typically only Navajos know who the hell I'm talking about when I mention Thomas Keam or Henry Linn Dodge, and many of them turn out not to know what I'm talking about.

                            Sir William Johnson is typically only remembered by Haudenosaunee people, Mohawks in particular whom I've spoken to.

                            Anyway, my point is that for the most part, history in the United States has indeed relegated these people to the realm of historical obscurity and you only find a very few institutions of higher learning, or small departments within the institutions of higher learning that will even make a passing mention of them.

                            On the other hand, typically everbody knows who Washington and Licoln are, but very few know about Washington's genocidal scorched earth campaign he leveled against the Haudenosaunee during the American Revolution, nor do they know about the fact that Lincoln oversaw the execution of 38 Dakota Sioux in Mankato, Minnesota in 1862, or the fact that, despite his supposedly noble fight to free one race of brown people in the South, he was all the while sponsoring Christopher "Kit" Carson's genocidal rampage through Navajo country and the subsequent imprisonment of nearly all that nation at the concentration camp known as Bosque Redondo aka Fort Sumner.

                            As for Twain's portrayal of blacks, I wholeheartedly agree, he was an all around ignorant, racist, moron.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              OK, we got some higher learned types.
                              Anybody got some insight into the Potano, the Timucua, and their last 10,000 years in the Land of the Sun.
                              ------------------
                              " We beseech and demand... that you accept the Church and the Superior Organization of the whole world and recognize the supreme Pontiff, called the Pope, and that in his name you acknowledge the King and Queen... his representatives, as the lords and superior authorities of these islands and main lands...
                              If you do not do this, or resort maliciously to delay, we warn you that, with the aid of God, we will enter your land against you with force and will make war in every place and by every means we can and are able, and we will then subject you to the yoke and authority of the church and of their Highnesses.
                              We will take you and your wives and children and make them slaves...
                              And we will take your property and will do you all the harm and evil we can..."

                              --The Requerimiento (read by Spanish Conquistadors to the people of the "New World" )

                              Comment

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