PONDERING THE FATE OF THE CALIFORNIA INDIAN

A Sacramento Union Editorial, 1855


If you have any doubts as to whether there was a campaign of extermination launched against the California Indians by American settlers, this 1855 editorial should clear up any misconceptions.


The accounts from the North indicate the commencement of a war of extermination against the Indians.  The latter commenced the attack on the Klamath; but who can determine their provocation or the amount of destitution suffered before the hostile blow was struck. 

The intrusion of the white man upon the Indians' hunting grounds has driven off the game and destroyed their fisheries. The consequence is, the Indians suffer every winter for sustenance.  Hunger and starvation follows [sic] them wherever they go.  Is it, then, a matter of wonder that they become desperate and resort to stealing and killing?  They are driven to steal or starve, and the Indian mode is to kill and then plunder.

The policy of our Government towards the Indians in this State is most miserable.  Had reasonable care been exercised to see that they were provided with something to eat and wear in this State, no necessity would have presented itself for an indiscriminate slaughter of the race.

The fate of the Indian is fixed.  He must be annihilated by the advance of the white man; by the diseases , and, to them, the evils of civilization.  But the work should not have been commenced at so early a day by the deadly rifle.

To show how the matter is viewed on the Klamath, we copy the following from the Crescent City Herald.  The people look upon it there as a war of extermination, and are killing all grown up males.  A writer from Trinidad, under date of January 22d, says:

I shall start the two Indians that came down with me to-night, and hope they may reach Crescent City in safety, although I think it exceedingly doubtful, as the whites are shooting them whenever an opportunity offers; for this reason I start them in the night, hoping they may be out of danger ere morning.  On the Klamath the Indians have killed six white men, and I understand some stock.  From the Salmon down the whites are in arms, with determination, I believe, if possible, to destroy all the grown up males, notwithstanding this meets with the opposition of some few who have favorite Indians amongst them.  I doubt whether this discrimination should be made, as some who have been considered good have proved the most treacherous.  I understand that the ferry of Mr. Boyce, as also that of Mr. Simms, has been cut away.  Messrs. Norton and Beard have moved their families from Elk Camp to Trinidad; they were the only white females in that section that were exposed to the savages.  I have no doubt there will be warm times on the Klamath for some weeks, as the Indians are numerous, well armed and determined to fight.