California History- Indians the History Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

With all the resources of normal use for Indians in missionary control, Indians began to attack the missions and military forces to steal animal and take revenge of sexual assaults on Indian women. Continuous demand of laborers for the missions impacted the Indian tribes greatly and finally in 1836, the Mexican Republic who officially took over from Spain in 1823, took away the missions powers of obtaining forced labor from Indian and the missions collapsed.

One third of the California Indian population, over 100,000 Indians perished to deaths attributable to missions of California. The 1824 constitution of Mexican Republic promised Indians voting rights as citizens but they continued to be treated as slaves.

The discovery of Gold in California in 1848 subjected the Indians to the most horrible period of their history. California was seized by U.S. military from Mexico in 1846 and sufferings of the Indians multiplied by the rush to get rich quickly. Bancroft aptly summed the treatment of Indians in these words. "That part of the early intercourse between aboriginal Americans and European which belongs to history may be briefly given; short work was made of it in California. The savages were in the way; the miners and settlers were arrogant and impatient; there were no missionaries or others present with even the poor pretense of soul saying or civilizing. It was one of the last human hunts of civilization, and the basest and most brutal of them al. [Cited in Five Views, 2004]."

Heizer, 1993] collected early records of the 1846-1879 period which show documentary records from military documents and news media of the time how Indians were subjected to systematic annihilation, rape, transmission of sexual diseases and turning Indians into alcoholics by selling alcohol to even ten years old children. Heizer shows that the white settlers expected the Federal troops to clear the area of all Indians. "Federal forces often came under extreme pressure by the local settlers to kill as many Indians as possible, and conflicts between federal and state laws were common. It is clear that the white settlers in California wanted the Indians to be wholly eliminated because they were considered a danger to peace and security [Heizer, 1993]."

The California Legislature eliminated the Indians Right to Vote. The 1850 Act of Governing and Protecting Indians makes it clear how the constitution treated the Indians. The act barred evidence of an Indian or Indians against a white man, allowed whites to take control of Indian children, permitted handing over of Indians found loitering to the highest bidder for a period of up to four months, an a white abusing Indian children could be fined an amount not exceeding $10 while an Indian stealing a horse, a cow or mule could be subjected to 25 lashes and a fine not exceeding $200. The 1860 amendment to the 1850 Act allowed whites to take custody Indian children and vagrant Indians to take control of them and retain their services until 40 years of age for men and 35 years for women. This law was repealed 14th Amendment became a part of U.S. constitution in 1866.

In 1852 U.S. government negotiated 18 treaties with Indians promising 7,466,000 acres of California land. In return the signatory tribes promised to forever quit claim to the United States for their lands. The California state Senate and the governor, however, decided to oppose any law that gave Indians the right to land that might be of value and the treaties were silently shelved by the Congress.

By 1880, the United States Government recognized the suffering of Indians and slowly began to take steps to make Indian full citizens of United States. Helen Hunt's book 'A century of dishonor' prompted the Congress to appoint her on a commission to investigate the state of California Indians. Education was recognized as the main corrective mechanism to right the wrongs but Indians were not entitled to send their children to public schools till 1920. Bureau of Indian Affairs and other organizations like Indian Board of Cooperation were established to help Indians develop themselves. United States Supreme Court recognized Indians as full citizens of United States in 1917 and allowed them to vote.

The period since then till today has been a story of gradual assimilation of Indians in United States while allowing those who want to retain their old life style to continue to live as they wish on lands allotted by Federal and State governments.

The history of Native Indians has lessons for us all. Unfortunately we have still not learnt that lesson and superpowers of today are still willing and eager to push their will on smaller countries and societies to subdue nations and races. The history of Native Indians in California and the rest of the United States may perhaps keep the freedom loving people raise their voices against the injustices of the past and present to ensure a peaceful future for the world.


California Indians Past and Present, [Online] retrieved from Internet on 21st April 2008,

Census 2000, [Online] retrieved from Internet on 21st April 2008,'sNativeAmerican, Eskimo and Alute populations.htm

Five Views: An Ethnic Site Survey for California, Nov. 2004, [Online] retrieved from Internet on 21st April 2008,

Heizer, R.F. The Destruction of California Indians: A Collection of Documents from the Period 1847 to 1865 in Which Are Described Some of the Things That Happened to Some of the Indians…

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