Meet the California Genocide, an oft-forgotten event in U.S. history due to occurring at the same time at the California Gold Rush. The Native American population of California decreased from as many as 150,000 in 1848 to 30,000 in 1870. Tribes such as the Yahi were hunted to extinction.

California genocide

For the conflicts during the settling of California by the United States, see California Indian Wars.

For the system of forced labour for indigenous people during the California Genocide, see Unfree labour in California.

The California genocide consisted of actions taken by the United States in the 19th century, following the American Conquest of California from Mexico, that resulted in the dramatic decrease of the indigenous population of California. Between 1849 and 1870 it is conservatively estimated that American colonists murdered some 9,500 California Natives, and acts of enslavement, kidnapping, rape, child separation and displacement were widespread, encouraged, carried out by and tolerated by state authorities and militias…. Continue Reading (10 minute read)

6 thoughts on “Meet the California Genocide, an oft-forgotten event in U.S. history due to occurring at the same time at the California Gold Rush. The Native American population of California decreased from as many as 150,000 in 1848 to 30,000 in 1870. Tribes such as the Yahi were hunted to extinction.”

  1. postmodernbatman

    A. L. Kroeber became famous (in Anthropology circles) for writing about the last Yahi who called himself [“Ishi”](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishi) which means “man” in Yahi.

    Ishi could not tell Kroeber his real name because Yahi culture dictated that Yahi could only be introduced to strangers by other Yahi – when asked, he would say “”I have [no name], because there were no people to name me.”

    Kroeber’s daughter was Ursula LeGuinn – who wrote the Earthsea trilogy.

  2. shaffy320

    Benjamin Madley’s book

    “An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873”

    Goes into detail how this process played out. He focusses on the Yuki, of Round Valley, who experience a loss of population of over 90% in 10 years (I think it may even have been 97%, but it’s been a while since I read it)

    *Downloadable from libgen

  3. esensofz

    Let us not forget that for some, murdering Native Americans and selling their scalps was more profitable than panning for gold.

  4. windigo3

    Ken Burns produced a great documentary called The West and it covered this topic pretty well. Very tragic.

  5. cityboy2

    And before someone comments an insecure nationalist comment like “It was a long time ago, get over it, white guilt is dumb hurr durr,” you’re completely missing the point of this post. This post is about remembrance.

    The least we can do is remember what happened.

    And also, a true patriot is one that acknowledges a country’s history and all its faults, and strives to better the country as a result through acknowledging, fixing, and healing the injustices that occurred.

  6. michims

    Australia did its best at wiping out the First Nations.
    Massacres and genocide across the country.
    Tasmania gives a good example of this. They were there for at least 40,000 years, took the European murderers (my ancestors) 30 years to have about 50 left in prison.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aboriginal_Tasmanians

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