"The Worst Slaughter in History"
He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him.” Daniel 2:22
California celebrated it’s freedom from Mexico and became the 31st state on September 9, 1850. We had entered into a covenant with God and man in 1849 with the birth of The Constitution of the State of California.
“We, the people of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure it’s blessings, do establish this Constitution."
Article 1 Sec. 1 "All men are by nature free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property: and pursing and obtaining safety and happiness.”
In 1850, less than one year later, we broke that covenant when the genocide of the Native Americans began in California…...
Many Americans are familiar with certain “notable” Indian battles throughout American history. Such as the Wounded Knee massacre, the Great Raid of 1840, The Trail of Tears (Cherokee Nation), the Sand Creek massacre, the battle at Plum Creek, the Dakota War of 1862 (Also known as Sioux Uprising of 1862), and the Battle at Little Big Horn, etc.
But few Californians are aware our own history steeped in the murder, rape and pillaging of the indigenous people of our great state.
Maybe it’s because it is lost in the shadows of two other major events that were taking place during that time. The Civil War 1861-1865 with the injustices done to the black slaves, and the California Gold Rush of 1848-1855. Our history books are filled with images and texts to saturate our minds with these historical events, but we are hard pressed to find any substantial material on the mass genocide that was taking place on our land during those same years. In fact, the eradication of Indians began around 1622 and lasted until approximately 1918. Although many abuses lasted well into the 1940’s, the warfare was most intense during the 1800’s. For California, it was the years between 1850 and 1890 that were the most brutal. We will never know how many Native Americans lost their lives as a result of these “wars”, but it is safe to say that it is well into the hundreds of thousands nationally. This includes men, women, and children.
In 1850, when tens of thousands of American citizens flooded to California for gold, the government noticed a problem arising. These gold seekers wanted to make California their home, and the most fertile, promising land was already occupied. By Indians. So, the government of California made a new law, known as "An Act for the Government and Protection of Indians." This is just one example of the laws that were set in place that sounded like they were there to protect the Indians, but in reality they were there to protect the settlers and fuel hatred and fear towards the indigenous people. This particular Act gave settlers the right to force any Indian found to be without means of support to work for him. Since Indians could not testify in court, almost any Indian could be seized as a slave under this law. Many settlers didn’t even bother with the law and purchased Indian children outright to be their slaves. Many people became quite wealthy from the sale of Indian women and children. An editorial in the Marysville Appeal elaborates on this practice:
"But it is from these mountain tribes that white settlers draw their supplies of kidnapping children, educated as servants, and women for the purpose of labor and lust . …There are parties in the northern portion of the state whose sole occupation has been to steal young children and squaws… and dispose them at handsome prices to the settlers who… willingly pay $50 or $60 for a young Digger to cook or wait upon them, or $100 for a likely young girl.”
This is why California's reservations were created. They were designed to be a safe place to protect the Indians from slave raiders. However, the women and children ended up in more danger of being kidnapped because they were now concentrated together. Tribes that formally did not get along with each other , were herded together like cattle onto these reservations, so that they would be “out of the way” of the ranchers and farmers. They were forced to do hard labor and many were fed only one ear of corn per day. The Indians did not have any rights, they were on government land and they were under the direct control of the U.S. military.
It didn’t take long for the government of California to set aside $1.5 million to reimburse volunteer militia units that hunted down and killed "“hostile"” Indians. Simply put, the state of California paid men to murder Native Californians. In fact, California’s first Governor, Peter Burnett. was quoted as saying,
"A war of extermination will continue to be waged between the races until the Indian race becomes extinct.”
And he almost got his wish. Public policy clearly supported the genocide of the Indians. Municipal governments offered bounties for Indian scalps. Shasta City in 1855 offered five dollars for every Indian head presented at city headquarters.
Meanwhile, the Euro-Americans kept arriving in California. Within three years more than 200,000 spilled across the Sierras in a rush to get their hands on gold. Even the most remote areas of the state were overrun with non-natives seeking to log timber, ranch and farm. This disrupted the Indians food supply. Logging mills, for example, kept salmon from going up stream, ranchers fenced in areas that Indians used to gather food, cattle trampled seeds and ate up plant life that were eaten by the Native Americans on a daily basis, and the settlers dogs and horses scared away wild game. The Indians began to starve. Out of desperation they sought refuge at the reservations, only to watch their children be stolen from them and sold into slavery, and the men stood by helplessly as their women were raped and forced to be companions for lonely ranchers and businessmen traveling through. Disease began to spread rapidly and the Native Americans continued to starve to death.
The attitudes towards Indians in the 1800's are astounding. It is not an easy read, however I am reminded over and over again, that God has seen it all. His heart breaks and His anger over the injustices rage within Him. He is jealous for a people so lost for so long. They were never really given a chance to know Him, they are lost in their pain and suffering. These great story tellers are left with this tragic story in the forefront of their minds. What do they tell their children? What legacy do they pass down to the generations from here? When I take the time to feel the past, my heart is moved in intercession for a people who are loved by God, yet still ignored by society in so many ways. In speaking with a young Indian woman from Round Valley, Ca, I mentioned to her that I was amazed at how hidden the Native American people seem to be. And she replied, "It is better to be hidden, than hunted.” They still remember, and so should we. Ignorance breeds injustice....It's time that we stand with our Native bothers and sisters and cry out for Justice for their people. Lets learn, repent and restore.
From the book, “When the Great Spirit Died”, by William B. Secrest
“The most persistent enemy of the Native Californians was the firmly rooted white philosophy which preached that, one way or another, the Indian was doomed. Beyond the callous references to “Diggers” and “Poor Lo”, the single most important catchword of the period was “extermination”. It was used early and often and picked up by the newspapers and repeated in the army reports, letters, government documents, and journals of the time. It was a word that set the stage for slaughter:”
“It is now that the cry of extermination is raised…; men, women, and children.. of the Indian race… shot down.”" Sacramento Placer Times, April 1849.
"There will be safety then, only in war of extermination.”" San Fransisco Daily Alta California, May 1850
"That a war of extermination will continue to be waged, until the Indian becomes extinct, must be expected…”" Governor Peter Burnett to the State Legislature, 1851
"The blame [for some robberies] as usual [was] laid at the door of the Indians…. And a war of extermination.. determined on.”" Indian Agent Redick McKee to the governor, 1852
"A party of men went out, discovered the Rancheria… and killed 140 Indians. …Their destiny is to be exterminated.”" A Weaverville merchant writing home, 1852
“The northern settlers [will visit] their savage enemies with a thorough and merciless war of extermination.”" Marysville Herald, October 1855
"This will, of course, continue until the force of the whites is sufficient to overwhelm the Indians and exterminate them"…” Superintendent Thomas J. Henley to James W. Denver, October 1857.
As part of this journey God has reminded me of Cain and Abel. Genesis 4:9 “"Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground..”" I felt the Lord say to me, "“The blood of the Native Americans cries out to me from the ground in California. Can you hear it?”"
Then He gave me this scripture.. Ezekiel 33:6 “"If the watchmen sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchmen accountable for his blood."”
I am writing this as a trumpet. We deserve judgment. The blood of the indigenous people of California is crying out from the land. But God, in His infinite mercy is extending His hand to us. We have an opportunity to consider the sins of our state, to repent and turn away from our wickedness. We have a window of time to extend justice to a people who have fought for it for so long, with little result. It all starts with prayer. I encourage you to allow your heart to connect with this, and cry out to God to show you His heart, that you will be filled with His wisdom, compassion and understanding. If we want an "Awakening" in California we must consider the past, we must enter into heavens perspective and from that place we must humble ourselves and pray, so that Jesus will come and heal our land and rescue souls. We must go into the most hidden community's and share the good news that they are not forgotten or alone.
Jesus see's them...and so do we.