Wherever you are in this hemisphere, you are on Native land. Never forget, that before the Spanish arrived in California, for thousands of years, from sea to shining sea, this was indian country, with more than 300,000 Natives living here, representing more than 100 tribes, each with its individual traditions and cultures, most completely lost by the arrival of settlers. Write that down, and burn it into your brain.
Never forget that the Russians, European-American colonists, and Spanish missionaries' arrival on the Pacific coastline forever changed the native people’s way of life. The first known interaction with the Natives in California was in the Monterey area in 1602, when Sebastián de Vizcaíno’s Spanish expedition was searching for a safe harbor for their ships. Well over 100 years then passed with little attention paid to Alta California. Then, Gaspar de Portola’s expedition of Spanish missionaries arrived in the Monterey area in 1769 and Spain began colonizing. Erasing the identities of the California indigenous people who entered the mission, in exchange, they were given a wool shirt with long sleeves called a cotón, and a wool blanket. The women were also given a wool petticoat and men received a breechclout to cover their groin area. They were then forcibly baptized into the Catholic faith, and thrown into labor camps that were filthy and disease ridden.
The San Rafael Mission was established where Luis Arguello, later the first provisional governor of California and his band of Spanish soldiers led expeditions, removing Pomo people from their lands, bringing them to the new mission. Five years down the road, California became part of the Mexican Republic, and the Mexican government gave out large tracts of Pomo land to its settlers, the foreigner/white colonists brought deadly disease and epidemic.
In one instance, a Russian ship brought a case of smallpox, the indigenous people did not have immunity to such diseases, the tribe populations heavily decreased, and the bones of thousands “ left unburied, bleached the hills” of Sonoma and Napa counties. As all this happened, the domestic stock animals brought by the foreigners consumed all of the native foods and damaged the gathering areas while they grazed. Foods the locals depended on for survival. Stream channels were disturbed and often re-routed, land was blasted away and huge amounts of soil entered streams and rivers, destroying the habitat of fish and other aquatic species that once were food for the indigenous people.
Ten years later there was a massive malaria outbreak, and the following year the missions were authorized by the crown to “convert” the Natives in a ten-year period. They had until 1844. They were to surrender their control over the mission’s livestock, fields, orchards and buildings to the Indians in 1844. The padres never achieved their goal and the lands and wealth were then stolen from the Natives. The California Mission System was not the romanticized fantasy we were fed in fourth grade. Debunked. Unpack that. Accept it.
“The history of genocide casts a shadow over California. It hovers over the land of the endless summer, over Disneyland, over the surfers, the Beach Boys, the palm trees, the Hollywood Sign … and yet, there is also a story of California Indian resistance and survival that is miraculous.” This was said by my hero, Benjamin Madley, he is an associate professor of history at UCLA and has been on a more than decade-long odyssey to document and reveal the existence of this government-sponsored genocide.
Queens of the Mines features the authentic stories of gold rush women who blossomed from the camouflaged, twisted roots of California. This is the final Chapter of Season One, and this is Part One of three in the chapter, Today, we will meet the Queen of Preservation. I am Andrea Anderson, This is a true story from America’s Largest Migration, The Gold Rush. This is Queens of the Mines. The preceding program features stories that contain adult content including violence which may be disturbing to some listeners, or secondhand listeners. So, discretion is advised.