Sponsored by The Book Club of California
6:00 PM – 7:15 PM Pacific
An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873, by Benjamin Madley, is the first full account of the government sanctioned genocide of California Indians under United States rule. It has been widely praised as groundbreaking, raising fundamental questions about how Californians and Americans think of themselves and their history.
Between 1846 and 1873, California’s Indian population plunged from perhaps 150,000 to 30,000. Madley is the first to uncover the full extent of the slaughter, the involvement of state and federal officials, indigenous resistance, who did the killing, the taxpayer dollars that supported it, and why the killings ended. This deeply researched book is a comprehensive 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.
A virtual presentation by Benjamin Madley, author and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of California, Los Angeles.