In September 1817 officials of the Russian colony of Ross drafted a protocol of a meeting held with the Kashaya Pomos, the Bodega Miwoks, and other Native Americans. The protocol described how the Russians had promised gifts and military protection to their Native American allies in exchange for the right to continue occupying Métini, a Kashaya Pomo–controlled territory about eighty-five miles north of San Francisco. Soon, reports of the meeting had made their way up and down the coast and across the Pacific, as Native Americans, Russian imperial ministers, and diplomats from Russia's imperial rivals debated its significance. This essay describes how the Russian-American Company used the protocol and other agreements with Native Americans to lay claim to coastal territories, and how Russia's imperial rivals disputed such claims. It argues that company officials used documentation of Native American signs of consent, such as speeches and gestures, to assert ownership of Métini, while Spain disputed the validity of agreements with Native Americans. The meaning that Russian officials assigned to Native Americans' consent enabled the Kashaya Pomos, the Bodega Miwoks, and other groups to exert some influence over Russian colonization and trade.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 139-172
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.