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California 1849: The gold rush and the American invasion

 
 
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2005 01:14 am
I'm not one to read historical fiction, but I was recently turned on to a couple of novels about California circa 1820-1850. A self-published sociiologist from Northern California wrote them, interweaving the Miwok, Missions, the Spanish-American war, and even throwing in the Donner party.

Books are: Eye of the Bear; and River of Red Gold. Author is Nadia West.

I live just a few miles from the location of one of the last major battles between the Spanish/Mexican militia and the Miwok and Yokut peoples who lived on the Stanislaus River; shame on me, I was unaware of the history of the area where I raised a family.

Anyway, the author puts a pretty nasty slant to American miners who came into the Northern California foothills, and also portrays John Sutter (of Sutter Fort fame) as a drunken idiot.

A very different history then what I learned in California schools in the 1960's and '70s, but West's research and portrayal of the events are impressive; it has sparked an effort on my part into learning as much as I can on the subject.

Anyone else recently have their world rocked about what they thought was a true version of history when they were a kid?......
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2005 01:33 am
You have to be careful with historical fiction--sometimes the author has an agenda. That being said, the fact that this has sparked your interest and leads you to research the material likely means you'll avoid those pitfalls.

Your comments reminded me of a very short book i read once, about an Indian who was the last survivor of his band. I cannot recall the name now, but if i do, i'll drop by and give you the title. His people were wiped out gradually as the whites pushed into the area around Mount Shasta. He was eventually found, and went to live with a museum director in San Francisco. I always enjoyed the story.

On a somewhat, but vaguely related note, one short book which i greatly enjoyed as a child was The Autobiography of a Grizzly--you might enjoy that as well.
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dyslexia
 
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Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2005 06:17 am
Set, the book you are trying to recall was called "Ishi" at least that's the one I read that matches your description.
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Acquiunk
 
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Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2005 06:45 am
The book is Ishi: in two worlds, by Karl Krober, University of California Press 1961. Ishi was the last living member of the Yahi band of indians when he was found sick and starving in August 1911. The Yahi lived as hunter/gathers in the Mt Larrsen area of Northern California. The remaining members of the band had be murdered by some land speculators in an attempt to make their territory available for sale, probably timber. Ishi ended up under the guardianship of Alfred Krober, an anthropologist at the University of California Berkeley and became a museum exhibit!!! He is one of a number of similar native/nonwestern people who ended up similar circumstances. For example see: Give Me My Fathers Body by Ken Harper, Simon and Schuster 1986. This is about Minik, a Greenland Eskimo boy whose family ended up in a similar position at the New York Museum of NAtural History
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nimh
 
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Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2005 07:06 am
bookmark
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patiodog
 
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Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2005 08:27 am
Also bm.

With interest.

I grew up in Sonora (Tuolumne County), Lone Voice.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2005 08:32 am
Ishi -- thanks guys, i couldn't recall the name for the life of me. They did a "made for teevee" movie of it, as well.
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A Lone Voice
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Jun, 2005 10:35 pm
patiodog wrote:
Also bm.

With interest.

I grew up in Sonora (Tuolumne County), Lone Voice.


A Wildcat, are we?

In the second book I mentioned, Sonora is described as a mining town, also in which Joaquin Murrita had a camp.

I actually used to travel thru Sonora quite a bit until the bypass was built. Great downtown area that makes it easy to picture how the area must have looked when horses were still the primary means of transportation.

I recall the story of Ishi from when I was in elementary school; interesting, in that the novels have as one of the main characters a Miwok who is one of the last members of his tribe that allows for a narrative from childhood to old age.........
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patiodog
 
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Reply Sat 25 Jun, 2005 08:01 am
Yeah, we read Ishi too, but we didn't get much into the actual, y'know, history. And I don't have any memory of the book other than having read it -- and for some reason my memory has transposed the cover of the Indian in the Cupboard onto it. Mainly it was lotsa missions and stuff -- the implication being that California was taken from would-be Mexico, rather than from its inhabitants at the time of "discovery."

Sonora's really turned into a pit in the last decade or so. Lotsa strip malls, new SUVs idling at stoplights, all the trappings up civilization. I like to think of it, now, as the gateway to the Emigrant Wilderness... Wink
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Paaskynen
 
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Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2005 03:24 am
Acquiunk wrote:
(he) became a museum exhibit!!!


Unfortunately, this pracice was popullar during the second half of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th century. The colonial powers in Europe used to display natives from their overseas colonies in human zoos. These were particularly popular in Germany and France. However, the fairs were not limited to them and not only to indigenous people from tropical countries. At least one German zoo used to put a Sami (Lap) family on display along with their reindeer!

It would have been defendable if it were done tastefuly and with an aim to educate people about the diversity in cultures in the world, and if the "museum pieces" were volunteers who were paid for their troubles, but more often than not they were traded and treated as cattle and the "Zoo's" often became exotic peep shows at certain "gentlemen only" opening hours.
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Acquiunk
 
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Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2005 05:52 am
Paaskynen, as a lot of this was done in the name of Anthropology, (and by anthropologist!!!) there is a considerable body of literature on the subject. For example see Harper mentioned above. As an archaeologist I feel that I am above all this (we simply rob graves).
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Setanta
 
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Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2005 06:20 am
Simply rob graves . . . you do yourself a disservice. Y'all rob graves with methodical obsession . . . i salute you.
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Lash
 
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Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2005 06:53 am
Hey. What was the dazzling battle plan that Chief Joseph (Nez Perce) came up with? I read recently that it was billed as the most brilliant Native American battle plan recorded.

As they were being forced off the Salmon River in Idaho?
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Setanta
 
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Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2005 08:18 am
http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/people/images/joseph1.jpg

Chief Joseph had succeeded his father as head of their tribe in a stretch of land covering portions of what are today Oregon and Washington. There had been a spurious treaty bandied about which claimed the Nez Perce had ceded their ancestral lands to the whites. Chief Joseph tried to negotiate in good faith with Federal representatives, but Grant opened the land to white settlement without reference to those negotiations. Although an 1873 Federal order called for white settlers to be removed, Grant's action lead General O. O. Howard in 1877 to assemble a force of cavalry to remove the tribe to a reservation in Idaho--and he sent warning to that effect. Chief Joseph had resigned himself to the eventuality, but a band of about twenty young warriors attacked some white settlers, and the army began to hunt them down.

Chief Joseph then conducted a fourteen hundred mile (that's right 1400 miles) fighting retreat in which he used dedicated vanguards and rear guards, field fortifications, ambushes, skirmish lines--even William T. Sherman described his conduct of the retreat as scientific. He was trying to make it to Canada, but the army finally cornered him in Montana.

I highly recommend a reading of his life, he was a remarkable man. His fighting retreat was so famous in its time that the German Imperial General Staff included a study of it in their staff college course.

From where the sun stands today, i will fight no more forever.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2005 08:28 am
By the way, Lash, Chief Joseph is not to be considered one of the most brilliant Native American military leaders--he is one of the most brilliant military leaders of all time--period.
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Lash
 
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Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2005 01:14 pm
I'll buy that opinion--it just wasn't how he was characterized in what I read. I didn't know WHAT he had done, just that it was considered brilliant.

I'm duly interested. Thank you. I will find a good autobiography.

I did know the quote. He had a lot more. He seemed a quite thoughtful, philosophical guy.

Anyway, thank you.
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Walter Hinteler
 
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Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2005 01:21 pm
Lash wrote:

I'm duly interested. Thank you. I will find a good autobiography.


Since Chief Joseph had formal schooling for only a few years, I sincerely doubt that he wrote many. :wink:
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Lash
 
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Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2005 07:38 pm
He was quite above average with his English skills--or did someone translate for him? (I'd think they'd have to reference that in his quotes...) Anyway, I don't see why he couldn't tell his story to someone.... Don't current lame actresses call ghost-written pap "autobiographies"?

I'll see. I'd rather hear it from him.
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Lash
 
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Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2005 07:46 pm
Chief Joseph authored So That All People May Become One People, Let the Rain Wash the Face of the Earth.

Partly autobiographical.

I will buy it tomorrow.

It is short, though.
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A Lone Voice
 
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Reply Mon 27 Jun, 2005 12:56 pm
In Northern California, Estanislao was the leader who brought about the Miwok and Yokut initial victory and last stand on what is now the Stanislaus River in what is currently Caswell State Park near Modesto and Stockton. This occurred in 1829.

Estanislao was either born in Mission San Jose or brought there as a child. He left the mission as an adult, and successfully brought numerous villages and mission escapees together to defend his people's river and village (yes, the river is named after him as it was pronounced by Mexicans who held large ranchos in the area.

What was amazing about Estanislao was his contemporary use of multi-level wood stockades and entrenchments/tunnels to defend the area. He repelled two attacks by Spanish Mexican militias who came out of presidios in San Francisco and Monterey. It is believed he learned these tactics while growing up in the mission and working with Spanish/Mexican soldiers.

Unfortunately for the defenders, the third Spanish/Mexican attack included cannon, which breeched the stockades. The attackers also used fire, setting the forests aflame to drive the defenders away from their defenses.

What is particularly interesting is what would have occurred if Estanislao was successful in repelling the third attack; there is documentation that the missions who were sponsoring the militias were not going to fund anymore attacks against the Miwoks and Yokuts in the Central Valley and Sierra foothills.

One can come up with a lot of 'what-if' scenarios if that third attack had failed and the Native Americans had been left in peace.

At least until gold was discovered....
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