Indian Removal Act of 1830
The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830 to authorize the removal of Indian tribes to federal territory west of the Mississippi River. On this day, our Nation took a turn down a road that would forever change the lives of millions of people for generations to come. California was not spared from this new law.
In September of 1863, Captain Starr of the California Volunteers as commander, and 23 US cavalrymen were ordered to march 461 Indian people 100 miles from Camp Bidwell in Chico to Round Valley to a reservation known as Nome Cult. Many were sick and old and could not continue the trip during the ascent from the Sacramento Valley into the Coast Range. About 150 were left behind at Mountain House between September 12 and 14. When news of this reached the commandant at Fort Wright in Round Valley, he ordered wagons and food for those struggling up the mountain. After 13 days, the Army was able to save “only a portion of them”. One of the men described the horrific scene: “…about 150 sick Indians were scattered along the trail for 50 miles…dying at the rate of 2 or 3 a day. They had nothing to eat… and the wild hogs were eating them up either before or after they were dead.” Only slightly more than half of the original 461 members survived the march, which became known as the Koncow (Maidu) Trail of Tears.
By the late 1870’s many Indians had escaped the reservation, but were generally left alone. Their homelands were no longer theirs and war with the whites had only brought more grief to their people. Compromise and assimilation into the newcomer’s society became the only way to survive.