A state panel has effectively killed a bid to name a Lake Tahoe cove for Mark Twain, citing opposition from a tribe that says he held racist views on Native Americans.
The Nevada State Board on Geographic Names this week voted to indefinitely table the request after hearing opposition from the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, whose ancestral homeland includes Lake Tahoe.
Supporters had sought to name a scenic cove on the lake’s northeast shore for Samuel Clemens, Twain’s real name.
But Darrel Cruz, head of the tribe’s cultural resource department, said Twain was undeserving of the honor because of derogatory comments about the Washoe and other tribes in his writings.
Among other things, he cited Twain’s opposition to the naming of the lake as Tahoe, which is derived from the Washoe word “da ow” for lake.
Cruz also objected to a Twain quote about Lake Tahoe: “People say that Tahoe means ‘Silver Lake’ – ‘Limpid Water’ – ‘Falling Leaf.’ Bosh! It means grasshopper soup, the favorite dish of the digger tribe – and of the Pi-utes as well.”
Cruz said Washoes dislike being referred to as the “digger tribe,” a derogatory term applied to some tribes in the West who dug roots for food. Other tribes ate grasshoppers.
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