Like many other chapters of American History, the famed California gold rush proved to be tragic for the country’s Native Americans. While there was peace at first, prospectors began attacking Native American tribes to gain access to the land. In retaliation, Native Americans fought back. It was to be a futile attempt as they were driven further and further from their home lands and killed mercilessly by gold hunting prospectors and miners. Those historically portrayed bearded, pick-axed wielding men who prospected gold were also responsible for rape, murder, enslavement and general genocide of the Native American People of the region. Although, some miners did fight for the rights of Native Americans, it was for naught. They had no chance against the onslaught of white settlers and miners.
What for years was eluded in the history telling of the California gold rush is now being pursued as truth and brought out into the open for our youngsters to learn. It is important to know that the white settlers were not all heroes and that they participated in the barbaric attacks on Native Americans who until they were forced off of their land, were peaceful to the settlers. Many reports and books are coming out about the little known writings describing the mass murders and atrocities against this countries native people.
What were once a substantial tribe of 300,000 Native Americans in California, their numbers dwindled to about 30,000 by 1870. Most of those 30,000 were now confined on reservations and have been referred to as “strangers on their own land.” Many of the Native Americans even worked with and helped the miners until the wars over land and the greed for gold took over and the slaughter of innocent American Indians began. This is a part of the history that must be brought to light and not hidden to portray all American settlers as heroes.