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Exterminate them

written accounts of the murder, rape, and slavery of Native Americans during the California gold rush, 1848-1868

Clifford E. Trafzer

Publication Year: 1999

Popular media depict miners as a rough-and-tumble lot who diligently worked the placers along scenic rushing rivers while living in roaring mining camps in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Trafzer and Hyer destroy this mythic image by offering a collection of original newspaper articles that describe in detail the murder, rape, and enslavement perpetrated by those who participated in the infamous gold rush. "It is a mercy to the Red Devils," wrote an editor of the Chico Courier, "to exterminate them." Newspaper accounts of the era depict both the barbarity and the nobility in human nature, but while some protested the inhumane treatment of Native Americans, they were not able to end the violence. Native Americans fought back, resisting the invasion, but they could not stop the tide of white miners and settlers. They became "strangers in a stolen land."

Published by: Michigan State University Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xi

In the early winter of 1848, Johann August Sutter, a former Mexican governmental official, local caudillo (warlord), and Indian slave owner, hastily convened a meeting with the chief of the Colma Nissenan Indians. Appointed by the military governor as the new United States Indian subagent and now apparently a rehabilitated ex-Mexican Patriot, Sutter shouldered the task of...

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pp. xiii-xvi

Gold and Gold Rush! The words bring forth romantic images of sourdough miners clad in bright flannel shirts, wearing worn-out Levis, scuffed boots, and floppy felt hats. Bending over the rocky shore of roaring rivers, these white miners pannned for gold with the diligence and perseverance that made America what it is today. American history texts, particularly...

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pp. 1-34

Holocaust is an excellent word to use to describe the terror, death, and destruction brought to Native Americans in California during the era of the Gold Rush. One might also use the words extermination, debasement, or genocide to depict Indian-white relations from 1848-68. The Chico Courant of July 28, 1866 offered the position that "It is a mercy to the red devils to...

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Chapter 1: White American Perceptions of California Indians

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pp. 35-53

This chapter includes a series of documents that offer superb insight into the attitudes of whites toward the Native Americans of California. As Anglos moved rapidly into the Gold Rush, they brought with them racial prejudices regarding North American Indians. Over two hundred years of interaction between whites and Native Americans shaped and influenced...

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Chapter 2: Native American Reaction to the Invasion [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 55-70

With the coming of the Gold Rush, thousands of non-Indians converged on California in hope of becoming wealthy. They established mining camps in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and erected communities throughout what became the Golden State. This constituted an invasion, for these outsiders entered the homelands of numerous Native American...

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Chapter 3: Other Native Resistance

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pp. 71-79

Truly, raiding white Americans during the Gold Rush was a significant and successful form of resistance. Yet the indigenous inhabitants of California did not limit their protest to this one strategy. Native Americans employed other methods to express their opposition to the non-Indian invasion of California. For instance, as a couple of documents demonstrate...

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Chapter 4: The Gold Rush and Native Americans of Southern California

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pp. 81-112

The Gold Rush certainly brought about a significant amount of change in the lives of Native Americans living in or near the mines. Yet the invasion of non-Indians into California directly affected indigenous peoples throughout the entire region. Soon, thousands of Anglos converged on Southern California, upsetting the traditional lifestyles of the Chumash,...

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Chapter 5: Anglo Depredations Against California Indians

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pp. 113-133

The Gold Rush brought a tide of people from all over the world to California. Thousands from the United States-mostly men-soon arrived in the region. Anglos carried with them dangerous attitudes toward North American Indians. For centuries, the English and their American descendants drove Indian peoples from their indigenous homelands. Whites indiscriminately killed Native Americans, considering native people to be ...

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Chapter 6: Indian Relations with the State and Federal Governments

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pp. 135-159

The Gold Rush attracted tens of thousands of American citizens to California. With the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, California formally fell under the jurisdiction of the United States. California soon became a state under the Compromise of 1850. The new state government, dominated by whites, quickly passed a statute that specifically discriminated...

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pp. 161-162


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pp. 163-177

E-ISBN-13: 9780870139611
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870135019

Page Count: 220
Publication Year: 1999