Thesis

The destruction of the Indian in Mendocino County 1856-1860

Thesis (M.A., History)--California State University, Sacramento, 1969.

In the bloody history of the conflict between North American Whites and Indians, California's chapter stands forth as epic in its description of the savage cruelty perpetrated against the Indian population. Referring to California, one early twentieth century historian stated, "Without an exception on the American continent there is no area in which the native population has so suddenly and generally diminished." It is also true that there is more written about the North American Indian than about any other aboriginal group in the world. Yet when one seeks a history of the fatal clash between the Whites and the Indians in California, one searches in vain, for accounts of this conflict are virtually non-existent. This paper will fill the historical gap in a limited way by focusing on the conflict between the Whites and the Indians in the Mendocino region of California. To put this story into perspective it has been necessary to include a chapter on the aboriginal population of California to show the magnitude of the "Indian Question" and a chapter on the reservation system, since it acted as a second force in the destruction of the Indian. The number of the aboriginal population of California has been the subject of debate for half a century and has frequently been used to extrapolate the numbers of the Indian population for all of North America. A study of Indian demography also helps in small part to unravel the skein of confusion which surrounds most historians' opinions about the number of native Americans who were involved'in the White-Indian conflict. The federal policy toward the California Indian, which resulted in the first extensive reservation system on this continent, was very different from what was suggested by the political rhetoric of the day_ If one considers that its stated purpose was to protect the Indian, the reservation system in California was an abysmal failure. It was in reality a handy instrument to aid in the extermination of the native population. For this reason I have included a general discussion of the reservation system from its inception to 1860 with emphasis on the reservations in Mendocino County. The third chapter of this thesis deals exclusively with the extermination of the Indian in the Mendocino region of California between 1856 and 1860. The "fatal impact" in Mendocino was a microcosm of a dramatic and savage story which occurred throughout the state of California in the fifteen years following the gold rush. In these fifteen years Indian society in California was destroyed as a culture and its sheer physical existence was very nearly exterminated.

In the bloody history of the conflict between North American Whites and Indians, California's chapter stands forth as epic in its description of the savage cruelty perpetrated against the Indian population. Referring to California, one early twentieth century historian stated, "Without an exception on the American continent there is no area in which the native population has so suddenly and generally diminished." It is also true that there is more written about the North American Indian than about any other aboriginal group in the world. Yet when one seeks a history of the fatal clash between the Whites and the Indians in California, one searches in vain, for accounts of this conflict are virtually non-existent. This paper will fill the historical gap in a limited way by focusing on the conflict between the Whites and the Indians in the Mendocino region of California. To put this story into perspective it has been necessary to include a chapter on the aboriginal population of California to show the magnitude of the "Indian Question" and a chapter on the reservation system, since it acted as a second force in the destruction of the Indian. The number of the aboriginal population of California has been the subject of debate for half a century and has frequently been used to extrapolate the numbers of the Indian population for all of North America. A study of Indian demography also helps in small part to unravel the skein of confusion which surrounds most historians' opinions about the number of native Americans who were involved'in the White-Indian conflict. The federal policy toward the California Indian, which resulted in the first extensive reservation system on this continent, was very different from what was suggested by the political rhetoric of the day_ If one considers that its stated purpose was to protect the Indian, the reservation system in California was an abysmal failure. It was in reality a handy instrument to aid in the extermination of the native population. For this reason I have included a general discussion of the reservation system from its inception to 1860 with emphasis on the reservations in Mendocino County. The third chapter of this thesis deals exclusively with the extermination of the Indian in the Mendocino region of California between 1856 and 1860. The "fatal impact" in Mendocino was a microcosm of a dramatic and savage story which occurred throughout the state of California in the fifteen years following the gold rush. In these fifteen years Indian society in California was destroyed as a culture and its sheer physical existence was very nearly exterminated.

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