Helen Hunt Jackson became interested in the plight of Native Americans in the latter half
of the 19th Century. So she wrote Ramona, a melodramatic tale about a mixed race girl in
California. Jackson hoped it would have a similar impact to Uncle Tom’s Cabin—and at
least at the time, the book made waves.
It became one of the most popular novels of the 1800s, going through some 300 printings
and selling 600,000 copies within 60 years of its 1884 release. But it did more to
popularize Southern California than raise awareness about the Indians.
Mark Boardman is the features editor at True West and editor of The Tombstone Epitaph.