Between 1846 and 1873, California's Indian population plunged from perhaps 150,000 to 30,000. Benjamin Madley is the first historian to uncover the full extent of the slaughter, the involvement of state and federal officials, the taxpayer dollars that supported the violence, indigenous resistance, who did the killing, and why the killings ended. This deeply researched book is a comprehensive and chilling history of an American genocide.
Madley describes precontact California and precursors to the genocide before explaining how the Gold Rush stirred vigilante violence against California Indians. He narrates the rise of a state-sanctioned killing machine and the broad societal, judicial, and political support for genocide. Many participated: vigilantes, volunteer state militiamen, US Army soldiers, US congressmen, California governors, and others. The state and federal governments spent at least $1.7 million on campaigns against California Indians. Besides evaluating government officials' culpability, Madley considers why the slaughter constituted genocide and how other possible genocides within and beyond the Americas might be investigated using the methods presented in this groundbreaking book.
Cover image courtesy of the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry Museum, Los Angeles: 482
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A must have book
Yes, this history must be known worldwide.
The whole book is traumatizing but must be a told
I don't know. Movies should be made.
This history needs to be told. The European still call Indian wars what is nothing more than genocide and deliberate extermination of a people so they could build the USA. The whole of the America continent is a blood bath of indigenous peoples. Accept the truth.
- Paola V. Hidalgo
Not for the faint at heart
The history - I read and listened to the book via Kindle. Amazing. I think the attention to detail is incredible here - Madley names the names, dates, and places of so many of the hundreds of massacres the thousands of emigrant gold miners of 1849-1870 and others perpetrated on the Native California Indians. He calls the 25- to 30-year span of virtually uncontrolled delegalizing, trafficking and killing a genocide (using UN definitions) for good reason.
When I realized what the "killing machine" was actually comprised of was "memorable." There were the local volunteers (newcomer miners and ranchers) electing like-minded congressmen who got funding to support the militias which were established and the money often refunded by the Federal government. Meanwhile the newspapers encouraged the carnage. Whole tribes were "exterminated" (the word used in primary sources) because a cow was supposedly stolen.
Al-Kaisi gave life to all the data. I read parts in the Kindle version, too, but mostly I listened as one horror was piled on the next added to another atrocity and all piling up into a genocide.
" Know now" - ?
Not for the faint of heart but absolutely vital for anyone looking to piece together the history of California in terms of the Indians.
- Rebecca Lindroos