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An American Genocide: The United States and…
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An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873 (The Lamar Series in Western History) (utgåvan 2017)

av Benjamin Madley (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1954139,814 (4.25)5
Between 1846 and 1873, California's Indian population plunged from perhaps 150,000 to 30,000. Benjamin Madley is the first historian to uncover the full extent of the slaughter, the involvement of state and federal officials, the taxpayer dollars that supported the violence, indigenous resistance, who did the killing, and why the killings ended. This deeply researched book is a comprehensive and chilling history of an American genocide. Madley describes pre-contact California and precursors to the genocide before explaining how the Gold Rush stirred vigilante violence against California Indians. He narrates the rise of a state-sanctioned killing machine and the broad societal, judicial, and political support for genocide. Many participated: vigilantes, volunteer state militiamen, U.S. Army soldiers, U.S. congressmen, California governors, and others. Ultimately, the state and federal governments spent at least $1,700,000 on campaigns against California Indians. Besides evaluating government officials' culpability, Madley considers why the slaughter constituted genocide and how other possible genocides within and beyond the Americas might be investigated using the methods presented in this groundbreaking book.… (mer)
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Titel:An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873 (The Lamar Series in Western History)
Författare:Benjamin Madley (Författare)
Info:Yale University Press (2017), Edition: Illustrated, 520 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
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An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873 av Benjamin Madley

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This book is full of less-known pieces of the horrors visited upon Native Californians. It reminds me of the wrenching Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee with its carefully documented stories of the conquest and invasion carried out by US political and military forces. But it largely neglected the story in California, probably because so much of the genocide occurred outside any formal treaty or negotiations. This text is less approachable, sounding more like a dissertation than a trade book, but I value the work as an enduring record of what happened to these tribes, with so little fanfare, in a very short time. ( )
  itheodore | Jun 28, 2023 |
An extensive work of detailed historical scholarship on the Native American/First Nations/Indigenous experience during the settlement of California during the 19th Century. Brutal to digest, but an incredibly important and timely read as the United States struggles to come to terms with our blood-stained past. The historical photographs collected for this book are amazing. ( )
  dele2451 | May 1, 2021 |
A text which should be must-read in American high school history courses, particularly in California, or at least portions of it since it’s rather long. Madley documents the willful genocide of Native American people in the state of California over 1846-73 in an incredibly thorough, very well-researched way (the notes/bibliography sections together are over a hundred pages). Even if you know of the general idea of the murderous cruelty of colonists from books like Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee or The Trail of Tears, this book’s focus on California – where the most blatant atrocities took place in the wake of the Gold Rush and a massive amount of immigration – brings them into horrifying focus. He also effectively uses the 1948 United Nations Convention definition of the term “genocide” to show how these acts met the criteria, since this is still debated today despite a plethora of comments from politicians and newsman in the 19th century calling for “extermination,” and their horrifying actions. That’s disappointing but not surprising – one of America’s two “original sins,” the genocide of Native Americans has long been whitewashed by history books, severely misrepresented in films, and left native people so fragmented and powerless over the following century that their voice was diminished. Madley provides the painful truth in a meticulous, thoughtful way, and it’s an important read.

Some notable points:

- Slavery of Native Americans existed in California for nearly a century, starting from the imprisonment and forced labor under the Spanish and “spiritual conquest” of Junipero Serra in the 1770’s. For those who have gone through the public school system in California and done the “Mission project” in the 4th grade, it’s absolutely appalling that time is wasted on it, glorifying the missions without even mentioning that they were built by slaves who were regularly tortured, raped, and housed in very poor conditions that led to disease and high mortality rates (content which could obviously be toned down for but at least broached with a younger audience). The iconic red tile roofs were adopted as a defense mechanism from Native American uprisings burning them down; think of that every time you see one.

- Slavery continued under Mexican rule on the large ranches after it gained independence in 1821, despite it being outlawed, and this carried over to American rule before and after California became a state. Native Americans were indispensable to the cattle and grain industries, and were involved in battles with Mexico in Southern California to help conquer it, and yet on places like Sutter’s ranch, they were literally treated like animals, including being fed out of a trough. When gold was discovered, they were forced to labor for it. Stone and Kelsey were also brutally cruel to their enslaved Native Americans on their ranch, which would lead to their being murdered in 1849, and campaign of extermination in response. (Kelsey is honored with the city name Kelseyville, which is maddening).

- From the 1840’s through the 1860’s it was common – common! – for white Americans to hunt down and butcher Native Americans, then take their children and sell them into slavery (sometimes young women too). This reached its zenith in 1862, ironically when the Civil War was being fought over slavery. Also, per the “convict leasing” system made into law in 1850, Native Americans were simply arrested and then sold as slaves, often forced to work during a farming season, then cast off to starve and die afterwards. In 1860 this law was strengthened, allowing among several other things the indenturing of adult natives for a decade. Between 1850 and 1863, 20,000 natives had been kidnapped and held in various forms of servitude, many of whom where children.

- The sheer number of heavily armed vigilante, state militia, and US Army operations against Native Americans over 27 years is hard to fathom. Madley lays them out in excruciating detail, which makes for a tough read at times, but it also drills home the reality (and may bring on the tears). It’s not possible to mention them all but the theme is one of extreme hatred, and hyperbolic responses towards entire tribes who were often unrelated to perpetrators or just suspected perpetrators of crimes. The savagery is extraordinary. In the popular imagination based on films of the “old west,” we see Native Americans wielding tomahawks and scalping colonists. The reality was the opposite. White people did nearly all of the scalping over these years in California, sometimes paying a bounty for scalps or showing them off as trophies, and using the tomahawk to crush the skulls of the elderly, men, women, children, and babies. One of the motivating factors was simple greed, as militia men were well paid by the state (which was later reimbursed by the federal government), Native American gold could be stolen, and money made from enslaving women and children. In fact, critics at the time often cited these “battles” with Native Americans for what they were – massacres, and performed for money. Another motivation was entertainment, “to see them jump” as one white man put it, and to rape the women.

- Some examples: Around April 5, 1846, John C. Fremont and Kit Carson (since honored with city and street names, grrr) led a massacre of up to 1,000 people who were fishing for salmon in the Sacramento River. Their rifle range far exceeded the range of the Native American’s arrows, leading to indiscriminate slaughter and the pursuit of those trying to flee that lasted for hours. On May 15, 1850, up to 800 people were massacred at Bloody Island, Clear Lake, with the murderers made heroes and the extent of their atrocities covered up, a clear turning point cited by the author. On November 8, 1952, Ben Wright, a man who committed multiple other massacres and atrocities, executed 43 to 90 natives who had been come unarmed to attend what they had been told would be a peaceful, diplomatic meeting. Wright was hailed as hero in Yreka afterwards. In the late fall of 1853, as many as 600 Tolowa natives gathered at Yontocket for an annual spiritual meeting with other tribes were butchered at dawn, with the entire village burned to the ground and babies thrown into the fire, still alive. Between November 1858 and April 1859 vigilantes murdered 550 to 910 natives in the Round Valley region, with reports at the time that they “shot down women with sucking babies at their breasts; killed or crippled the naked children that were running about.” Operating out of Red Bluff, William C. Kibbe killed hundreds and relocated thousand to die on reservations in a three month campaign in the Pit River. In some cases, the killers knew their victims to be local and friendly, and yet butchered them and their children anyway. In the same year, Jarboe led many massacres, killing 400 and imprisoning 600, and then happily billed the state of California. On Feb. 26, 1860, natives were massacred on Duluwat Island in Humboldt Bay after gathering for an annual peaceful celebration. Here’s how an eyewitness described that scene:

“The writer as upon the ground with feet treading in human blood, horrified with the awful and sickening sights which the eye wherever it turned. Here was a mother fatally wounded hugging the mutilated carcass of her dying infant to her bosom; there, a poor child of two years old, with its ear and scalp torn from the side of its little head. Here, a father frantic with grief over the bloody corpses of his four little children and wife; there, a brother and sister bitterly weeping, and trying to soothe with cold water, the pallid face of a dying relative. Here, an aged female still living and sitting up, though covered with ghastly wounds, and dying in her own blood; there, a living infant by its dead mother, desirous of drawing some nourishment from a source that had ceased to flow.”

And these are just examples. There were hundreds, literally hundreds of expeditions/operations that led to indiscriminate murder/massacre (Madley states 370). One rancher, Dryden Laocock, testified in 1860 that he went on expeditions 2-3 times a week over the preceding five years that each killed on average somewhere between 15 to 60 natives, meaning literally thousands of murders over those years … and yet examples like this are so common that he occupies less than a page in the book. A rancher in another area proudly boasted of having killed 60 native infants with his hatchet. There were numerous occasions where white men lured natives into feasts or diplomatic meetings, and then murdered them. In 1857 Samuel Lockhart poisoned at least 93 Achumawi with strychnine mixed into loaves of bread. The natives were not viewed as human, they were viewed as pests to be exterminated.

- There was no recourse in the legal system. For one thing, in the rare instances when whites were arrested for killings, they were often not brought to trial, as in the case of the 8 vigilantes mysteriously released in 1850. For another, Native Americans were denied the right to testify against whites, to serve on juries, to vote, and per the infamous Act for the Government and “Protection” of Indians, signed by first Governor Burnett (a racist also honored with a street name in San Francisco, grr), Native Americans were made criminals until proven innocent, established the “convict leasing” system mentioned above, and legalized corporal punishment against them. In 1854 a law was passed prohibiting the sale of guns and ammunition to natives, making it even harder for them to defend themselves. While there was some relief provided in laws passed in 1873, Native American convict leasing remained legal until 1937.

- The Native American reservation system was, with rare exception (like Hoopa Valley), a place of cruelty and starvation, America’s concentration camps that are rarely referred to as such. It’s notable that Adolf Hitler was inspired by them. Basic necessities – food beyond 2-3 ears of corn a day, clothing, blankets, clean housing – were not provided, and the budgets for such things slashed over time (e.g. 70% in 1857) despite the vast wealth in California’s gold deposits. White people often came onto the reservations to kill Native Americans without recourse; the natives were rarely protected by the US Army. And in fact, the original set of treaties signed with 18 tribes all over the state in 1851-52 which would have provided safety and 7.5% of the land in the state were reneged upon by the U.S. Senate, goaded on by John C. Fremont (there’s that name again), now a senator himself, and acting out of racism and sheer greed. Natives were also at times put on death marches just to get to a reservation, e.g. the September 1863 Konkow Trail of Tears march from Chico to Round Valley reservation over 90 miles and a mountain range away – with no provisions provided, resulting in hundreds unable to make it and abandoned to die on the way by Augustus W. Starr.

- Population estimates over these years vary, but the decline of Native Americans and rise of colonists looked roughly like this over the hundred years. Disease played a large role as well, e.g. the sweeping epidemics of smallpox and malaria in the 1830’s that killed ~60,000 natives, but the devastation in the numbers speaks for itself:

1769: ~310,000 natives, less than 100 colonists
1830: ~245,000 natives
1846: ~150,000 natives, ~12,000 colonists
1849: ~100,000 natives, ~30,000 colonists in June, ~94,000 colonists in December
1857: ~54,000 natives, ~320,000 colonists
1870: ~30,000 natives, ~530,000 colonists

Flash forward:
1970: ~90,000 natives, 20,000,000 colonists
2019: ~760,000 natives, ~39,510,000 colonists

For its startling truth and the depth of its research, I loved this book, and would have liked even more, e.g. a longer final chapter on Native Peoples in the years leading up to present, the survival strategies that were employed, and the current state of reservations in the state. The introduction raises some interesting questions, such as whether reparations might begin to made by having the state take less of a cut of Native American casino revenue, and it would have been nice if those had been expanded on to bring all of this history to the present. Perhaps that was beyond the scope of the book. Regardless, Madley did a fantastic job here, and I hope his work and others like it can ride on the coattails of the 1619 Project to achieve broader visibility in America. Like that project, it undercuts the message of American exceptionalism and a history that is generally sugar-coated all the way through high school. That may seem to some as a distressing sign of trying to tarnish our past, but without understanding the reality of our past – to remain in ignorance of it – doesn’t allow citizens of America to connect the dots to the present, which is far more dangerous than many realize. Anyway, sorry for the long review; definitely check this one out. ( )
4 rösta gbill | Oct 13, 2020 |
Between 1846 and 1873, California's Indian population plunged from perhaps 150,000 to 30,000. Benjamin Madley is the first historian to uncover the full extent of the slaughter, the involvement of state and federal officials, the taxpayer dollars that supported the violence, indigenous resistance, who did the killing, and why the killings ended.
  PAFM | Dec 14, 2019 |
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Between 1846 and 1873, California's Indian population plunged from perhaps 150,000 to 30,000. Benjamin Madley is the first historian to uncover the full extent of the slaughter, the involvement of state and federal officials, the taxpayer dollars that supported the violence, indigenous resistance, who did the killing, and why the killings ended. This deeply researched book is a comprehensive and chilling history of an American genocide. Madley describes pre-contact California and precursors to the genocide before explaining how the Gold Rush stirred vigilante violence against California Indians. He narrates the rise of a state-sanctioned killing machine and the broad societal, judicial, and political support for genocide. Many participated: vigilantes, volunteer state militiamen, U.S. Army soldiers, U.S. congressmen, California governors, and others. Ultimately, the state and federal governments spent at least $1,700,000 on campaigns against California Indians. Besides evaluating government officials' culpability, Madley considers why the slaughter constituted genocide and how other possible genocides within and beyond the Americas might be investigated using the methods presented in this groundbreaking book.

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