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California Slaughtered 16,000 Native Americans. The State Finally Apologized For the Genocide

June 19, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore


Assemblyman James Ramos, of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, (fifth from left) opens a meeting with tribal leaders from around the state, as well as California Govenor Gavin Newsom (fourth from left),undefinedat the future site of the California Indian Heritage Center in West Sacramento, California on Tuesday, June 18, 2019.

Enslavement. Exploitation. Discrimination. Violence. Forced removal. Genocide.

Despite inhabiting California for thousands of years, Native Americans faced all of this and more at the hands of California’s white settlers and the state’s government itself. Now, California governor Gavin Newsom has made a first-of-its-kind apology to the state’s Native peoples.

“It’s called a genocide. That’s what it was. A genocide. [There’s] no other way to describe it and that’s the way it needs to be described in the history books,” Newsom said at a blessing ceremony for a Native American heritage center. “And so I’m here to say the following: I’m sorry on behalf of the state of California.”

Up to 16,000 Native Californians died in the genocide, which took place from the 1840s through the 1870s. Most of the deaths occurred during hundreds of massacres during which state and local militias encircled and murdered Native peoples. The genocide was facilitated by discriminatory California laws and the outright support of state officials and Federal authorities who condoned and supported the attacks.

READ MORE: California’s Little-Known Genocide

The apology comes in the wake of centuries of mistreatment of Native Californians. Before white settlement, at least 80 languages were spoken by a variety of Native peoples in what is now California. Animosity toward Native Californians predates the state; during California’s tenure as a Mexican province from 1804 to 1848, Spanish missionaries seized Native lands and pressured them into living in and laboring for missions. Epidemics wiped out tens of thousands.


Illustration depicting Sutter’s Mill, where New Jersey prospector James Marshall discovered gold in 1848, sparking the California Gold Rush.

Once California was handed over to the United States at the end of the Mexican American War, things became even worse for the new state’s Native population. The man who discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill was led to the precious metal by Native people under the control of John Sutter. But despite making the Gold Rush possible, the state’s Native peoples were enslaved, displaced and discriminated against.

Indeed, the very foundation of the state was built on a …read more

Source: HISTORY

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