Exterminate Them: Written Accounts of the Murder, Rape, and Slavery of Native Americans during the California Gold Rush, 1848-1868

By Joel R. Hyer; Clifford E. Trafzer | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
OTHER NATIVE RESISTANCE

Truly, raiding white Americans during the Gold Rush was a significant and successful form of resistance. Yet the indigenous inhabitants of California did not limit their protest to this one strategy. Native Americans employed other methods to express their opposition to the non-Indian invasion of California. For instance, as a couple of documents demonstrate, Indians frequently directed their efforts at Chinese miners, demanding money and goods.

Other newspaper articles in this section suggest a multitude of tactics. Besides stealing from Anglos and Chinese, Indians defended their homelands by attacking American settlements, burning ranches, and killing whites. They ambushed mail carriers, merchants, miners, and anyone else who trespassed on their lands. Native Americans working on ranches often left their jobs to join other indigenous peoples in coordinated strikes against whites. According to one report, Indians surprised and killed seventy-two Anglos near a small stream known as Rattlesnake Creek. Some fought American militia units, thereby dispelling earlier rumors among California's Anglo population that the region's native people never engaged in combat.

After the establishment of Indian reservations in the Golden State, Anglos sought to capture Native Americans and place them on these reserves. Indians manifested their disdain for this oppressive system by bolting the reservations at every possible opportunity. Anglos, in response, searched for Native Americans who left the reserves. Whites occasionally provided food and clothing to Indians in exchange for promises that they would cease stealing livestock belonging to American citizens. As one document implies, Indians in at least one instance defiantly broke their promises by stealing some items from their captors' camp and escaping into safer regions.

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