By Brendan C. Lindsay
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Extra resources for Murder State: California's Native American Genocide, 1846-1873
This belief was part of the psychological foundations underpinning genocide. For settlers and would-be miners heading for California, the cultural demonization of Native Americans, deployed through education, books, and articles in newspapers, was a powerful influence on the way Indians were imagined in the collective Euro-American psyche. This cultural education was predisposed to teach the hatred or suspicion of barbarous Indians. This indoctrination, beginning in childhood, produced a powerful sense of righteousness in Euro-Americans when it came to the destruction of Indians, the boogeyman figure of North America until the late nineteenth century.
A knowledge of “Indian wars” in the eastern half of North America, fought to seize the birthright of all Americans—arable land—from undeserving savage hands, was likely known to every settler. Indians were obstacles in the past, and remained so in the present of the nineteenth century. These commonly held ideas about Indian inferiority may explain most of the problems between whites and Native Americans. 4 By the advent of the conquest of California the historical memory of the United States was already replete with uncritical interpretations of the past, as historians focused their efforts on celebrating the pioneer past and its connections with their present.
He made it clear that destruction need not mean physical death for all the members of a given group. 24 For the purposes of this study, practices in California by Euro-Americans such as indentures, apprenticeships, legal marginalization, and relocation will be analyzed as genocidal practices. Clearly the goal of practices such as these was an end to Indianness by negation of group identity, replacing it with Euro-American language, customs, and culture. In other words, nineteenth-century whites from the United States controlling California intended genocide in the same manner that Lemkin codified it in his definition of genocide.