Forgotten Forty-Niners: Native Americans in the California Gold Rush

  • Date: –16:00
  • Location: SCAS, Thunbergssalen Linneanum, Thunbergsvägen 2
  • Lecturer: Benjamin Madley, Fellow, SCAS. Associate Professor of History, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Website
  • Organiser: Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
  • Contact person: Sandra Maria Rekanovic
  • Seminarium

Although their story is almost completely forgotten today, thousands of Native Americans mined in the California gold rush. During the first year of the rush, California Indians and Native Hawiians comprised more than half of all miners in California. As the rush continued, other Native Americans joined them, traveling from as far away as Alaska, Mexico, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Some worked as slaves. Others discovered rich gold deposits, worked as independent entrepreneurs, or developed new mining technologies. Then, even as Native American gold mining reached its zenith in 1849 and 1850, they faced punitive state taxes and organized violence. Still, many resisted and continued to mine well into the 1860s. Some became wealthy mine owners. Others left the mines to found businesses, write California’s first novel, or parlay their new wealth into political careers or business ventures in their home communities. Eventually most left the mines, but these Native Americans played important roles in a world-shaping event. This presentation will tell their story.