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California History: State & Federal Indian Policy

"I regard the other provisions of the treaties, although they be considered novel in their character, as both suitable and appropriate the wants and desires of the Indians. The supply of beef-cattle for present or temporary subsistence being limited, the comparative consention given them for the extinguishment of their title to their lands: be justly considered as trifling in amount..."

In 1849 Gold was discovered in California. In 1850 California obtained statehood. Within the first two years of statehood, California created laws designed to exterminate or enslave the Native peoples within its borders. Native American ownership of the vast majority of 'California' lands was an impediment to the economic benefits the state sought, and individual, corporate or federal interests sought, to obtain from the lands.

During the same time period of 1850-52, the President of the United States authorized a series of treaty negotiations designed to remove Native American occupancy and claim to their California homelands. This series of treaty negotiations was unique in that the treaties negotiated offered far less in 'benefits' to Tribes than any that had been historically offered in previous treaties ratified by the United States and Tribal Nations. Important to our Pechanga history, The Treaty Made and Concluded at the Village of Temecula, on January 7, 1852 was among the treaties negotiated.

So few benefits were offered for the relinquishment by California Tribes of vast millions of acres of California's most valuable lands to the United States that it was commented upon and justified in report to the United States Senate in 1852. A primary focus of treaty negotiations was to assure that access to gold exports from California were assured, as excerpts from an 1852 report to the Senate on the treaty negotiations illustrate:
"Admitting, however, that some of these reservations contain gold enough to add a few thousands even, to the many millions taken from the soil, I ask, is it not expedient and politic to permit them (the Tribes) to take them (the reservations)?"

"During the Indian war of last spring, whole mining districts were abandoned, and, although unacquainted with the statistics of the State, I will venture the remark that the exports of gold were less by millions during that period than during the months immediately succeeding. If this was the result of a war with a very few tribes, what may be considered as the effects of a war with the entire Indian population of California" Popular feeling prejudicial to the treaties has been assigned as a reason for their rejection, and cannot the question be properly and naturally asked, will popular feeling point out a substitute, I venture the prediction in this matter, that an entire change in popular feeling will take place, at least among such as regard the Indians as having a right even to a bare and scanty living."

"To those who regard the stipulations of these treaties as novel, I would simply remark, that beef and flour are but substitutes for annuities in money, powder, lead, and guns, and that while the treasury is being drawn upon annually to fulfill the obligations of other treaties, these supplies are to cease after the short term of two or three years."

- EDWARD F. BEAL, Superintendent Indian Affairs for California. Hon. L. Lea, Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Washington City, D.C., May 11, 1852

The US Senate did not ratify the treaties. Negotiated in good faith by Tribes, and at little relative cost by federal negotiators, the US Senate decided instead to order the treaties and the evidence they confirmed of Tribal land rights in California to be hidden in secret for 60 years. The result for California tribal members was that they had little protection from the state of California's legislation and court systems encouraging Native American extermination, slavery, and the dispossession of Native homelands. This continued for all of the late 1800's and well into the 1900's. Conversely, during the late 1800?s tens of millions of dollars worth of gold annually was exported from California, much of it to the east coast of the United States where it was converted into coins by the federal government's Philadelphia Mint. Other coins were minted by authorization of an 1850 Presidential Order at the San Francisco Mint.

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