Indians formerly subsisted on game, fish, acorns, etc., but it is now
impossible for them to make a living by hunting or fishing, for nearly
all the game has been driven from the mining region or has been killed
by the thousands of our people who now occupy the once quiet home of these
children of the forest.
Near the crowded goldfields, Indians found it harder and harder to find food. Some began to steal. The miners despised them all as "Diggers."
In 1850, California law made it legal to declare any jobless Indian a vagrant, then auction his services off for up to four months. And it permitted whites to force Indian children to work for them until they were eighteen, provided the permission of what the law called a "friend" was obtained first.
Whites hunted down adult Indians in the mountains, kidnapped their children and sold them as "apprentices" for as little as fifty dollars. "If ever an Indian was fully and honestly paid for his labor," one white settler said, "it was not my luck to hear of it." Indians could not complain in court because by another California statute, "no Indian or black or mulatto person" was "permitted to give evidence in favor of or against a white person."
South Fork of Feather River
The miners... are sometimes guilty of the most brutal acts with the Indians. Such incidents have fallen under my notice that would make humanity weep and men disown their race.
Indians continued to die from diseases the white man had inadvertently introduced among them, but now thousands more were being killed deliberately.
We hope that the Government will render such aid as will enable the citizens of the north to carry on a war of extermination until the last Redskin of these tribes has been killed. Extermination is no longer a question of time -- the time has arrived, the work has commenced, and let the first man that says treaty or peace be regarded as a traitor.
The "bold" volunteers crept on the Indians before day... and killed about nine men, the balance escaping. The women and children remained, trusting that an American would not murder women and children. In this they were mistaken... the Americans searched around among the haystacks with the hatchet and split the children's heads open. In this way there were over forty women and children butchered.
The towns of Marysville and Honey Lake paid bounties for Indian scalps. Shasta City offered five dollars for every Indian head brought to city hall. And California's state treasury reimbursed many of the local governments for their expenses.
was of no unfrequent occurence for an Indian to be shot down in cold blood,
or a squaw to be raped by some brute. Such a thing as a white man being
punished for outraging an Indian was unheard of. It was the fable of the
wolf and the lamb every time.
There were some 150,000 Indians in California before the Forty-niners came. By 1870, there would be fewer than 30,000. It was the worst slaughter of Indian peoples in United States history.
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