Nevada Cove Won't Be Named for 'Racist' Mark Twain
Washoe tribe objects to plan for Lake Tahoe cove
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2014 1:39 PM CDT
Samuel Longhorne Clemens, better known under his pen name, Mark Twain, is seen in this undated photo.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – The Nevada State Board on Geographic Names was considering naming a Lake Tahoe cove for Mark Twain—until it heard from the Washoe Tribe, whose ancestral homeland includes the lake, that Twain held "racist views" about Native Americans. As the head of the tribe's cultural resource department pointed out in a letter to the board, Twain once referred to the Washoe as "the digger tribe," a derogatory name used for tribes that dug roots to eat. Twain also opposed naming the lake Tahoe, which came from the Washoe word for lake, "da ow."

The board voted this week to indefinitely table the request to name the cove for Samuel Clemens, Twain's real name, the AP reports. The board member behind it says it's unlikely to resurface, out of respect for the tribe. He initially proposed it because he believes Twain camped at the cove in 1861—and accidentally started a wildfire while preparing to cook dinner. Twain did once write a letter objecting to the treatment of tribes in Arizona and New Mexico, but an English professor says there's little evidence he overcame his anti-Native American prejudices. "When it comes to African Americans, he was ahead of his time substantially," the professor says. "When it comes to Native Americans, his record is not very good."

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Showing 3 of 88 comments
Allister Fraser
May 21, 2014 5:54 PM CDT
Twain's Huckleberry Finn was banned in El Segundo as being racist: the ludicrousness of such acts shows pea-brain understanding of the difference between the literary technique of giants like Twain and comic-book readers like El Segundo officials and the protesting 'native Americans'.
sgudgel
May 21, 2014 3:12 AM CDT
you can not place ones views a 100-150 years ago to todays standards. if you did that lincoln was a slave suporter, every white man is a racist and we are all Illegal immigrants or decendants of
Chris Farley
May 20, 2014 7:02 AM CDT
Just Stupid. Twain, retired to the town I live in. He wrote many of his big novels here. We have a lot of historical references to him and Langden. I wont even get into how involved they were in the undergound railroad and the reconciliation treaties of the upstate NY indian tribes. But lets just take his art out of contex for the sake of an argument...