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Directory of Mark Twain's maxims, quotations, and various opinions:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


INDIANS

The priest explained the mysteries of the faith "by signs," for the saving of the savages; thus compensating them with possible possessions in heaven for the certain ones on earth which they had just been robbed of. Nobody smiles at these colossal ironies.
- Life on the Mississippi
Lewis and Clark tray
1903 Lewis and Clark Centennial Commemorative Tray
from the Dave Thomson collection

[Governor Nye was] a real father to those poor Nevada Indians. He gave them....blankets and hoopskirts. You could see an Indian chief with a string of blacking boxes round his neck, and over his red blanket four or five....hoopskirts, walking the streets as happy as a clam, with his hands sticking out of the slats. And yet...notwithstanding all the efforts and civilizing kindness of the good Governor, those Indians didn't step out of their savage condition--they were just as degraded as if they had never seen a hoopskirt.
- speech delivered January 24, 1872 at Steinway Hall in New York City, quoted in the New York Herald, January 25, 1872. Reprinted in Mark Twain on the Lecture Circuit, p. 172.

We have to keep our God placated with prayers, and even then we are never sure of him--how much higher and finer is the Indian's God......Our illogical God is all-powerful in name, but impotent in fact; the Great Spirit is not all-powerful, but does the very best he can for his injun and does it free of charge.
- Marginalia written in copy of Richard Irving Dodge's Our Wild Indians

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.
- "Facts Concerning the Recent Resignation"

...knowledge of Indians, & humanity are seldom found in the same individual.
- Letter to W. D. Howells, February 22, 1877

Years ago, I was accused of loading an Indian up with beans lubricated with nitro-glycerine & sending him in an ox wagon over a stumpy road. This was impossible, on its face, for no one would risk oxen in that way. But it shows how far malice will deflect an aborigine from the equator of truth.
- Letter to Charles H. Clark, March 6, 1880

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