of Interest: California Indian Displacement

From: Southern California: An Island Upon The Land, II.4 The Indian In The Closet
By: Carey McWilliams

“In effect, the Indians of California were ground to pieces between two invasions: the Spanish from the south up the coast, and the Anglos from the east and north across the mountains and over the desert.

American settlers came to California with two centuries of Indian warfare behind them. The Indians had no rights that the white man was bound to respect. The Spanish had planned on retaining the Indian population. The Spanish policy was to regard the Indian as a potential economic asset, but, under American rule, he was regarded as a liability to be liquidated as rapidly as possible.

The entire coastal population of California had been occupied by less than a hundred Spaniards and as late as 1846 the entire “white” population of the state did not exceed 5,000 by comparison with an Indian population of 72,000. (Estimate run as high as 300,000 statewide for the California Indian population pre-Spanish arrival in 1769.)

Since the Spanish invasion had been along the coast, the hinterland area had been left as a kind of Indian territory. But the Anglo invasion came from the east so that the first contact Anglos had with Indians in California was with the wild or gentile group.”

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