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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]


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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]




ON the morning of the sixteenth day out from St. Joseph
we arrived at the entrance of Rocky Canyon, two hundred
and fifty miles from Salt Lake. It was along in this
wild country somewhere, and far from any habitation of white
men, except the stage stations, that we came across the wretchedest
type of mankind I have ever seen, up to this writing. I
refer to the Goshoot Indians. From what we could see and
all we could learn, they are very considerably inferior to even
the despised Digger Indians of California; inferior to all races
of savages on our continent; inferior to even the Terra del
Fuegans; inferior to the Hottentots, and actually inferior in
some respects to the Kytches of Africa. Indeed, I have been
obliged to look the bulky volumes of Wood's “Uncivilized
Races of Men” clear through in order to find a savage tribe
degraded enough to take rank with the Goshoots. I find but
one people fairly open to that shameful verdict. It is the Bosjesmans
(Bushmen) of South Africa. Such of the Goshoots
as we saw, along the road and hanging about the stations,
were small, lean, “scrawny” creatures; in complexion a dull
black like the ordinary American negro; their faces and hands
bearing dirt which they had been hoarding and accumulating
for months, years, and even generations, according to the age
of the proprietor; a silent, sneaking, treacherous looking race;
taking note of everything, covertly, like all the other “Noble
Red Men” that we (do not) read about, and betraying no sign in
their countenances; indolent, everlastingly patient and tireless,
like all other Indians; prideless beggars—for if the beggar instinct


Page 147


[Description: 504EAF. Page 147. In-line image of a tribe of Native Americans sitting around a fire cooking and talking.]
were left out of an Indian he would not “go,” any more
than a clock without a pendulum; hungry, always hungry,
and yet never refusing anything that a hog would eat, though
often eating what a hog would decline; hunters, but having
no higher
than to kill
and eat jackass
crickets and grasshoppers, and embezzle carrion from the buzzards
and cayotes; savages who, when asked if they have the
common Indian belief in a Great Spirit show a something
which almost amounts to emotion, thinking whiskey is referred
to; a thin, scattering race of almost naked black children, these
Goshoots are, who produce nothing at all, and have no villages,
and no gatherings together into strictly defined tribal communities—a
people whose only shelter is a rag cast on a bush
to keep off a portion of the snow, and yet who inhabit one of
the most rocky, wintry, repulsive wastes that our country or
any other can exhibit.

The Bushmen and our Goshoots are manifestly descended
from the self-same gorilla, or kangaroo, or Norway rat, whichever
animal-Adam the Darwinians trace them to.

One would as soon expect the rabbits to fight as the


Page 148


[Description: 504EAF. Page 148. In-line image of two men sitting in a carriage with arrows flying over their heads.]
Goshoots, and yet they used to live off the offal and refuse
of the stations a few months and then come some dark
night when no mischief was expected, and burn down the
buildings and kill the men from ambush as they rushed
out. And once, in the night, they attacked the stage-coach
when a District Judge, of Nevada Territory, was the only
passenger, and with their first volley of arrows (and a bullet
or two) they riddled the stage curtains, wounded a horse or
two and mortally wounded the driver. The latter was full
of pluck, and so was his passenger. At the driver's call
Judge Mott swung himself out, clambered to the box and
seized the reins of the team, and away they plunged, through
the racing mob of skeletons and under a hurtling storm of
missiles. The stricken driver had sunk down on the boot as
soon as he was wounded, but had held on to the reins and
said he would manage to keep hold of them until relieved.
And after they
were taken from
his relaxing
grasp, he lay with
his head between
Judge Mott's
feet, and tranquilly
gave directions
about the
road; he said he
believed he could
live till the miscreants
were outrun
and left behind,
and that if
he managed that,
the main difficulty
would be at an end, and then if the Judge drove so and so
(giving directions about bad places in the road, and general
course) he would reach the next station without trouble. The
Judge distanced the enemy and at last rattled up to the
station and knew that the night's perils were done; but


Page 149
there was no comrade-in-arms for him to rejoice with, for the
soldierly driver was dead.

Let us forget that we have been saying harsh things about
the Overland drivers, now. The disgust which the Goshoots
gave me, a disciple of Cooper and a worshipper of the Red
Man—even of the scholarly savages in the “Last of the Mohicans”
who are fittingly associated with backwoodsmen
who divide each sentence into two equal parts: one part critically
grammatical, refined and choice of language, and the
other part just such an attempt to talk like a hunter or a
mountaineer, as a Broadway clerk might make after eating an
edition of Emerson Bennett's works and studying frontier
life at the Bowery Theatre a couple of weeks—I say that the
nausea which the Goshoots gave me, an Indian worshipper,
set me to examining authorities, to see if perchance I had been
over-estimating the Red Man while viewing him through the
mellow moonshine of romance. The revelations that came
were disenchanting. It was curious to see how quickly the
paint and tinsel fell away from him and left him treacherous,
filthy and repulsive—and how quickly the evidences accumulated
that wherever one finds an Indian tribe he has only
found Goshoots more or less modified by circumstances and
surroundings—but Goshoots, after all. They deserve pity,
poor creatures; and they can have mine—at this distance.
Nearer by, they never get anybody's.

There is an impression abroad that the Baltimore and
Washington Railroad Company and many of its employes are
Goshoots; but it is an error. There is only a plausible resemblance,
which, while it is apt enough to mislead the ignorant,
cannot deceive parties who have contemplated both tribes.
But seriously, it was not only poor wit, but very wrong to
start the report referred to above; for however innocent the
motive may have been, the necessary effect was to injure the
reputation of a class who have a hard enough time of it in the
pitiless deserts of the Rocky Mountains, Heaven knows! If
we cannot find it in our hearts to give those poor naked creatures
our Christian sympathy and compassion, in God's name
let us at least not throw mud at them.