The problem of interest is to get an informed and accurate understanding of the potential reason why the Indians in the California Gold Rush were highly discriminated against and killed by the white settlers and other minors. The principal aim is to demonstrate that, indeed, the Gold Rush brought death and destruction accompanied by a high level of discrimination. In demonstrating the evils of the Gold Rush, one needs to understand the situation in mines. Here, gold mining in California represents an era, when humanity was put aside because different players tried to outdo each other in a rush of gold. Many miners joined forces for the cause and purpose of killing the Indian miners. A good example is the Massacre of Klamath River that led to fifty brutal deaths of the Indians.

Many of the gold diggers in California were white settlers. They joined the Indian miners, who were less than a half of all the miners producing gold. The Hispanics and Anglo-Americans were the other major players. Deaths from various diseases were the norm of the mining exercises. Whereas the Indians also experienced the same consequence, the additional planned killings, particularly from the white settlers, meant that the Indians were subjected to huge human losses. Moreover, the Indian women also paid a huge price, whereby, they were used as prostitutes by the miners, and the security situation for the Indians was so bad that women freely allowed themselves to be used as prostitutes in exchange for protection. It is, therefore, clear that, despite the huge capital gains that characterized the time of the Gold Rush in California, to the Indian miners, it was a disastrous time, when death and discrimination were the norm of the day.

The Goal of the Research

The goal of the research is to provide an understanding of the issues related to the effect of the Californian Gold Rush on Native Americans. Drawing from Fixico, the Native Americans and white settlers flooded California and aimed to mine gold. As a result, conflicts occurred between the mining tribes. For instance, the Native Americans started perceiving the settlers as nuisances, who invaded their land for selfish gains. This research will investigate, explore and discuss the impacts of the hostility between tribes in the mines, specifically, the relationship between the Natives and other miners. It is, therefore, the intention to come up with a non-biased articulation of the occurrences within the California gold mines that encouraged huge competition, which ultimately, led to the majority of the miners turning against the Indians.

Research Methodology

  • Sample

The research will use five primary and five secondary sources as a sample of the existing pool of knowledge on the Gold Rush. The information in the research will be based on this sample to ensure that the study is narrowed down considering that the discussed is a broad topic that concerns a series of events, which have happened at different times in history, and that there is a large pool of sources that can be utilized. However, the use of a sample of 10 sources will ensure that the collected information is a product of the different ideologies, and thus, the captured perspective on the topic is detailed and inclusive.

  • Design

Moreover, the research will utilize the retrospective design where the information will be based on a literature review of scholarly journal articles and books. The aim will be to find a pattern of an attitude toward the Indians from these sources and to formulate a cohesive and detailed assertion of the treatment that the Indians got in the mines.

  • Historical Evidence

It is impossible to trace the impact of the Gold Rush on the Indians completely because these were the times when the Natives of a particular place were heavily persecuted by the colonists they had welcomed sometimes, to the extent that the killings of Indians were perceived as a trophy hunt. This is one of the critical occurrences that clearly paints the Gold Rush was a worrisome time to the Indians that brought about a huge loss of their lives and disruption of their world.

  • Diseases

The Gold Rush brought many diseases to California miners. This phenomenon primarily traces to the mining exercises. One of the factors that brought the diseases to the Indians was usage of the mercury in extracting gold. Soon, the mercury found its way into the neighboring water bodies that the Indians relied upon. This led to the water becoming toxic, which caused many deaths of the Indians due to their consuming of the fish from the polluted water sources. Moreover, another source of the diseases new to the Natives were the diseases common to white settlers and other miners, and uncommon to the Indians. With many people coming from different regions and continents, the gold rush in California also brought unintentional diseases to the Indians. Some of the critical diseases that were introduced by the settlers were smallpox, influenza, and measles. Despite the fact the diseases were killing all people in the mines, the Indians died in the biggest numbers. These diseases were new to the Indians’ antibodies and this is the reason for these diseases attracting a fatality rate of 80-90% among the natives of Indians. The high death rates that resulted from the Indians being exposed to the new diseases, demonstrated that, indeed, the gold rush was a disastrous time for the Natives of California.

The tension between Mining Tribes

The aim of the development of the Gold Rush was to stimulate the gold coinage. However, with uncontrolled competition, the Gold Rush came high tension between the tribes that developed mining.

  • Economic Reasons

During the Gold Rush, a huge number of Anglo-Americans came having no experience in territory development, which turned against the Indians. The miners saw the Indians as dangerous nuisances that needed to be removed since the Indians openly objected to the expansion of gold mining in their native lands. To many Indians, gold mining was a threat to their way of life since it was heavily polluting their land, particularly, through deforestation. Moreover, the Indians saw little value in gold, and thus, they took the settlers into the mines in exchange for different things, which looked valuable to them, such as glass beads. However, with time, the Indians realized that the settlers valued the gold very much and, as a result, they started demanding goods that are more valuable in exchange. This change in the land lease conditions was the beginning of the mass killings and discrimination towards the Indians when the settlers came to the realization that they could even own Indians. This way, the Indians were forced to baptize with the aim to ensure that the settlers had landed the Natives into their way of life, and this phenomenon started the process of capturing the mines and the Indians.

  • Social Evils

Rape, massacres, and genocides are the most common social evils that the Indians faced in the Gold Rush. Death was the order of the day, and some of the settlers were coming for the sole purpose of hunting and killing the Indians. To make the situation even worse, the killings were directed at youngsters and children, who were chased, captured, and murdered with their heads blown up with guns. Besides, things got worse when the settlers heard that the Indians had killed one of the Anglo-Americans. This led to the Clear Lake Massacre, where more than a hundred Indians, their women, and children were murdered in cold blood, all in vengeance of one white settler, while the guilt of the Indians in the killing of this man was not proved. The killing soon turned tragic – the settlers began to kill the Indians for a fee: 25 cents per scalp and over $5 for severely disfigured heads. To signify what a mass human loss the Gold Rush brought to the Indians, at the beginning of gold mining, in 1845, there were about 150,000 Indians living in California. However, after being subjected to the 22 years of the Gold Rush, only about 30,000 Indians were alive. Death was, thus, the reality to many Indians during the Gold Rush. Over and above, after the Indians were conquered they were subjected to forced labor or arrest that made no choice for them except to work for the Whites in order to survive. Rapes became the order of the day when the Indian women gladly gave themselves to the guards of the settlers in exchange for protection.

  • Legal Discrimination

This was another aspect where the Indians were totally prostrated when it came to their protection. One of the major factors that caused the mass killings of the Indians was the realization that such actions were not punishable. All the attempts of the Indians to seek justice for the atrocities were met with a solid rejection by the justice system of the day, which was controlled by the Whites majority and financed with gains from the Gold Rush. For instance, on one of the occasions, when the Indians went to the court regarding their rights of land ownership, the court refused to protect the Indians and, instead, affirmed the rule of White supremacy. Moreover, another case when the Indians were not protected by the law happened in 1850, when the California legislature adopted the Act that exposed the Indians to servitude. The Act legitimized the constraining of the Indians towards forced labor if they were perceived to be loitering or orphaned. Such loopholes in the legislative system provided a platform for the enslavement of Indians by the white settlers and for killing them as if they were not human beings.

  • Affirmation

Through the primary and secondary sources, it became clear that, despite the Gold Rush bringing material gains to the Indians, the negative impact superseded any gains. Their women were raped, and children orphaned, not to mention the killings that later took the form of trophy hunting. Besides, many deaths were caused by the diseases brought by the settlers, such as Measles and Smallpox, which had a very high death rate among Indians. Over and above, due to the demands of the Gold Rush, with the Act of the year 1850, the Indians were forced into slavery. All the reports regarding the massacres or the ownership of the Indians’ native lands were strictly denied. Clearly, this evidence point to the only conclusion, which, in line with the thesis statement, is that, despite the huge capital gains brought by the Gold Rush, the outcomes it eventually brought to the Indians were death and destruction.


It is clear that the use of both primary and secondary sources was necessary for ensuring that the finding of the research was based on a larger scope of the available information on the treatment of Indians during the Gold Rush era. Besides, through the highlights from the used sources, it is clear that the Gold Rush era presented the darkest times in California when the profits superseded humanity. Moreover, the Gold Rush brought an influx of settlers, who brought diseases, the majority of which had high mortality rates in the Indians. Besides, it is clear that discrimination of the Indians was eventually brought about by the Gold Rush, and their rights were persecuted in line with supporting the exploitation of the gold fields. The killings of the Natives were unpunished while the Gold Rush legislation even encouraged the settlers to gather and hunt the Indians, sometimes just for fun. It is, therefore, clear that any gains to the Indians brought about by the Gold Rush had little or no effects on their well-being compared to the atrocities, to which the Indians were subjected on a daily basis.

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