Today there are available copies of U.S. government documents that include letters from government agents and private citizens about this neglected history. Those documents include "Guide to American Indian Documents in the Congressional Serial Set: 1817-1899" and "Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, California Superintendency, 1849-1880" and others. The communications contain first-hand accounts of the murderous acts done by white pioneers who rushed into California at the start of the "gold rush". Unfortunately, these well-documented historical sources remain largely ignored. And as Newcomb points out, the population of California Indians dropped drastically from an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 in 1850 to 15,000 in 1900 - well OVER 90%. Just image if one read that the population of England, or France, or Germany dropped over 90% within 50 years, people would be shocked and want to know WHAT HAPPENED? But American history, particularly in California, has shown that it seems that since these were just "Indians" an over 90% drop in their population is no big deal. This is not to mention the fact of the 1851 California treaties that were drafted but never became law because of the deals California's congressional lobbying did with U.S. lawmakers to make certain those treaties never saw the light of day, thereby leaving California tribes without any protection under U.S. law, and landless until decades later. Still, if I were a decision-maker in California tribal government, particularly those with compacts with the state, I would DEMAND that this history be mandatory on California's educational sytem, and also demand a public statement of apology. Perhaps then, we would hear less from ignorant or uninformed people like California's last governor preaching that California tribes should "pay their fair share" - I wrote to Schwarzenneger about this when he was governor telling him that California Indians had MORE than paid their fair share, and told him why, and I cc'd other California elected officials - but I never heard back from any of them. But I'm just a private citizen with no special political clout - that is why only those powerful individuals or groups (e.g. California gaming tribes) that DO have political clout, will have to press this message if they want to get it heard. Until this happens the people of California will remain ignorant of this history, and the real history of California Indians under U.S. control will remain largely ignored.
Saturday, August 11, 2012 - 19:42