California genocide

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[The U.S.] has never yet been able to say that, yes, genocide was practiced upon and carried out.
~ Mickey Gemmill (Pit River)

The California genocide was the genocide of the Indigenous peoples of California during the colonization of California. Between 1846 and 1873, across California, the indigenous population declined by approximately 70 percent. Murders by U.S. agents and white settlers were carried out through massacres, forced labor, biological warfare, and starvation.

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Alphabetized by author


  • Even as southern states seceded and the country careened toward civil war, Congress once again emphatically endorsed and generously financed California’s killing machine. The new act appropriated up to $400,000 to pay the expenses of the nine California militia campaigns that had killed at least 766 California Indians from 1854 through 1859. The euphemistically titled “Act for the payment of expenses incurred in the suppression of Indian hostilities in the State of California” rejuvenated state militia Indian-hunting operations even as outrage against such campaigns became public at local, state, and federal levels. Genocide in California becoming a national issue, and the US government would soon become even more directly involved.


  • Genocide of indigenous peoples occurred in California... and its perpetrators were primarily miners and settlers who had recently arrived from the East... The Native population [was] about 100,000 in 1849, during the Gold Rush, and [fell] to about 30,000 in 1870. It subsequently reached a nadir of 15,000 to 25,000 during the decade 1890-1900.


  • I saw one of the squaws after she was dead; I think she died from a bullet; I think all the squaws were killed because they refused to go further. We took one boy into the valley [reservation], and the infants were put out of their misery, and a girl 10 years of age was killed for stubbornness.
  • H.L. Hall, "Indian War Files of the California Archives" (1860)


  • Leland Stanford himself passed legislation and recruited volunteers for US Army battalions that hunted and killed hundreds of Native Americans... The wealth and privilege we gain from attending Stanford were created by the sacrifices of previous generations, including the unpaid labor and genocide of California Indians.


  • Serranus Hastings was expert in utilizing ‘externalities’ to shift to the State the substantial expenses of clearing his claimed lands and perpetuating a slave system predicated on terror, killings, rapes, and forced family separation which funneled into the slave camp known as the Nome Cult Farm, where one could eat only if one could work. That he was significantly responsible for genocidal atrocities against the native peoples of Round Valley is not in dispute.


  • In the early decades of California's statehood, the relationship between the State of California and California Native Americans was fraught with violence, exploitation, dispossession and the attempted destruction of tribal communities, as summed up by California's first Governor, Peter Burnett, in his 1851 address to the Legislature: "[t]hat a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the two races until the Indian race becomes extinct must be expected."

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