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No museums to America's own genocide
I’ve been helping get some work done on the graphics for our water/farmer oligarch documentary — working title: Pistachio Wars. In a short segment we touch on California’s European colonization and the slaughter of the indigenous population here. It’s a heavy topic and, sadly, we don’t get too deeply into it in the film. Still, to get in the mood I’ve been rereading Benjamin Madley’s very thorough book on the genocide of California Indians, which was a much more organized affair than people realize — a campaign that really took off after the Gold Rush and basically happened as part of the territory’s integration into the United States of America. As Madley points out in the book, the Americanization of California brought with it a whole new way of “dealing” with the indigenous population — swapping out the “Hispanic tradition of assimilating and exploiting indigenous peoples” and replacing it with “the Anglo-American pattern of killing or removing them.”
His book has a great resource for historians and journalists: 100-plus pages of appendixes on the various massacres that American and European settlers carried out against the indigenous population here, complete with dates and approximate locations. My understanding is that most of the massacre data comes from the local press or reports by the people who actually carried out the killings, including the U.S. Army and official militias convened by the government. So by its very nature the data is incomplete and represents just a tiny fraction of massacres. Most of the killing happened in isolated spots with no witnesses, and it’s not like there was an immediate fact-finding commission established after these massacres took place — as was done, for instance, by Jews who were dedicated to collecting evidence of pogroms that were taking place during the Russian Civil War, even as it was still happening. California Indians — women, men, children — were killed in a series of small and large slaughters pretty much in total obscurity.
To try to get a visual sense of these slaughters, I’ve been slowly plugging Benjamin Madley’s data into a Google Map matrix. You can check it out here or here — if you’re interested. Nothing crazy. Just some points on a map.
Looking at this history again, as cynical as I am, I have to say that I’m still shocked by how little attention this gets. I’m Jewish and there are countlessresources on the Internet looking at the Holocaust — locations, numbers, research. There’s practically nothing like that for Native Americans/Indians. Of course, there are also no major Native American Holocaust museums in America. Plenty of Jewish holocaust museums — even
one two in Los Angeles! But then I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. We Jews didn’t get genocided here. If we did, I doubt there would be so many museums about it.
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Want to know more? I wrote about Benjamin Madley’s book and the forgotten history of California’s investor-backed genocide squads. Yep, people could invest in cleansing the land of indigenous undesirables…and get 7 percent annual returns guaranteed by the federal government.