One of the earliest contacts between whites and Indians of Nevada occurred in August, 1832. The greeting was a rifle ball. Milton Sublette, with a company of trappers, had reached the headwaters of the Humboldt. There a cousin-by-marriage of President-to-be James K. Polk displayed a peculiar brand of heroism. Joe Meek, a free-trapper member of the party, coolly fired at and killed a Shoshone. N. J. Wyeth, a Yankee mountaineer accompanying the group, questioned Meek about the incident, according to an account in Mrs. F. F. Victor’s story, The River of the West.
Meek told him that he had killed the native “as a hint to keep the Indians from stealing our traps.”
“Had he stolen any?” Wyeth asked.
“No,” replied Meek, “but he looked as if he was going to.”