Murder State: California's Native American Genocide, 1846-1873

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U of Nebraska Press, Jun 1, 2012 - Social Science - 496 pages
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In the second half of the nineteenth century, the Euro-American citizenry of California carried out mass genocide against the Native population of their state, using the processes and mechanisms of democracy to secure land and resources for themselves and their private interests. The murder, rape, and enslavement of thousands of Native people were legitimized by notions of democracy?in this case mob rule?through a discreetly organized and brutally effective series of petitions, referenda, town hall meetings, and votes at every level of California government.
Murder State is a comprehensive examination of these events and their early legacy. Preconceptions about Native Americans as shaped by the popular press and by immigrants? experiences on the overland trail to California were used to further justify the elimination of Native people in the newcomers? quest for land. The allegedly ?violent nature? of Native people was often merely their reaction to the atrocities committed against them as they were driven from their ancestral lands and alienated from their traditional resources.
In this narrative history employing numerous primary sources and the latest interdisciplinary scholarship on genocide, Brendan C. Lindsay examines the darker side of California history, one that is rarely studied in detail, and the motives of both Native Americans and Euro-Americans at the time. Murder State calls attention to the misuse of democracy to justify and commit genocide.

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This book is a treasure of historical facts about California's native population. While it is difficult to read for the level of brutality and injustice upon the Natives, I am grateful to have found such a work because, the previous secrecy has been a very unhealthy thing that obscured learning and damaged the reputation of our host population. As a Native myself, I have always wondered by nothing good about Indians predominated our educational system, except to say that certain crafts were nice. I live in Pomo country, which people are known to be among the finest basket makers in the world with feathers, beads, shells, and watertight weaves. To think that baskets were made at the same time Indian children were being kidnapped, and injustice was the rule, is an amazing thing. Baskets were used as currency. The people of Yokayo pooled their resources at one time to buy back their own land. Their desire was obstructed for a short while, but eventually they won out and still live on land that was first taken from them, then reclaimed, purchased with funds from baskets made by both men and women. That is a miraculous thing that few know about. Thank you Brendan C. Lindsay. 


Defining Genocide
Part 1 Imagining Genocide
Part 2 Perpetrating Genocide
Part 3 Supporting Genocide
At a Crossroads in the Genocide
Forgetting and Remembering Genocide

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About the author (2012)

Brendan C. Lindsay is a lecturer of history at the˙University of Central Florida. He holds a PhD in history from the University of California, Riverside.