An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873 by Benjamin MadleyThe first full account of the government-sanctioned genocide of California Indians under United States rule
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. 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.
Population history of indigenous peoples of the Americas
She became the first of some known cases of white captives, many of whom became pawns in an ongoing power struggle that included European powers, American colonists and indigenous peoples straining to maintain their population, their land and way of life. A group of Native Americans look at a sailing ship in the bay below them. By the close of the Indian Wars in the late 19th century, fewer than , indigenous people remained, a sharp decline from the estimated 5 million to 15 million living in North America when Columbus arrived in The reasons for this racial genocide were multi-layered. Settlers, most of whom had been barred from inheriting property in Europe, arrived on American shores hungry for Indian land—and the abundant natural resources that came with it. Even more fundamentally, indigenous people were just too different: Their skin was dark.
COMING TO TERMS WITH GENOCIDE
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Guenter Lewy, who for many years taught political science at the University of Massachusetts, has been a contributor to Commentary since Richard West, declared that the new institution would not shy away from such difficult subjects as the effort to eradicate American Indian culture in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is a safe bet that someone will also, inevitably, raise the issue of genocide. Thus, according to Ward Churchill, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado, the reduction of the North American Indian population from an estimated 12 million in to barely , in represents a"vast genocide. Stannard, a historian at the University of Hawaii, native Americans had undergone the"worst human holocaust the world had ever witnessed, roaring across two continents non-stop for four centuries and consuming the lives of countless tens of millions of people.
The genocide of indigenous peoples is the mass destruction of entire communities of indigenous peoples. While the concept of genocide was formulated by Raphael Lemkin in the midth century, the expansion of various European colonial powers such as the Spanish and British empires and the subsequent establishment of colonies on indigenous territory frequently involved acts of genocidal violence against indigenous groups in the Americas , Australia , Africa and Asia. He saw this genocide as a two-stage process, the first being the destruction of the indigenous population's way of life. In the second stage, the newcomers impose their way of life on the indigenous group. Some scholars, among them Lemkin, have argued that cultural genocide , sometimes called ethnocide , should also be recognized. A people may continue to exist, but if they are prevented from perpetuating their group identity by prohibitions against cultural and religious practices that are the basis of that identity, this may also be considered a form of genocide.