The Present Does Not Recognize the Past
California Indigenous Peoples are unsurpassed in their range of diversity of languages, cultures, and extraordinary survival within the confines of an equally rich and diverse geographic region in the United States. Through the centuries, both the original peoples and the land have endured devastating impacts from periodic waves of newcomers. In more recent history, the epic mass migration related to the California Gold Rush of the 1850s irrevocably damaged California Native cultures and threatened their survival. The actions and official governmental policies of these migrants unequivocally decimated and dislocated California Native populations, along with dispossessing the remaining survivors of their ancestral lands and natural resources.
The evidence of the roles played by the State of California and the federal government during the first Gold Rush to dispossess California Indians from their land, and almost destroy their communities and cultures is known in certain academic circles. Recent scholarship, along with increasingly digitized primary source materials online, provide accessible, compelling evidence that California Indian history is a central component of U.S. and Native American history. This information remains absent in public and official venues such as public school curricula, museum exhibits and interpretive programs, and state government policies.
Students, educators, policy makers, and the general public know little to nothing about California indigenous peoples’ cultures, history, and sovereignty. There is no reason why California Indians should be absent from colonial, U.S., and California educational curricula.
Everybody has a History, Everybody has a Past
But not everybody’s history and past are recognized, honored, or respected. This website seeks to change that. It allows anyone access to primary sources and educational materials to review, evaluate and draw their own conclusions about the history and the past experienced by California Indigenous Peoples.
The California Indian History website also works collaboratively with California Indigenous Peoples and allies to make available educational essays, multi-media, and video online for students, educators, policy makers, and the general public to learn more about California Indian histories and cultures.
We hope that knowledge and a better understanding will break the longstanding silence, bear witness to the history of California and its original peoples, and create an opportunity to heal current and future generations who are impacted by the historical trauma of the past.