Native Americans and the Californian Dream

Task: Assess the relationship of native Americans to the California dream.
Essay Topic: Native Americans and the California Dream
Essay Type: 5-paragraph Essay
Length: 5 pages
Formatting: MLA
Requirements: Explain the ways in which the “Introduction” to "Exterminate Them!" challenges the California Dream, and how this text sheds light on a part of California history. Then select one of the poems (“Indian Cartography”, "The First", "Itch Like Crazy", or “Tribal Identity Grade Three”) or either the film Upstream Battle or the article "Jackpot" and analyze how this text illuminates specific points raised by the “Introduction”.
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Clifford Trafzer in The “Introduction” of Exterminate them! provides an account of the occurrences that characterized California during the Gold rush period. There were series of murder and rape cases that dominated California in the heat of the gold business and slavery arose from the activities that were wrapped around this valuable mineral. Most of the miners in California lived live that were filled with trouble and hardships since they had to work extremely hard along the hasty rivers to get gold. Their homes were in the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and they were surrounded by the noise from the mines. The image of the miners is clarified by Trafzer by a providing a detailed account of the evil that takes over California in the event of the gold rush. The red devils, according to the author “were a mercy to exterminate them”. The Native Americans faced barbaric treatment from the white miners and eventually they fought back for their nation in vain. The inhumane treatment received by the Native Americans from the white miners triggered a conflict between the two races (Starr 22). The Natives were unable eliminate the settlers who had taken over the land and the gold mines. Trafzer presents the Native Americans as “strangers in a stolen land”. Trafzer presents the setbacks of the California dream and clearly points out that the dream was interrupted by the spread of inhumane treatment and evils in California. The root of the vices mentioned was the struggle for gold that was the main source of economic independence in California in this period.

The Californian Dream that was made popular in 1849 was a psychological idea that was aimed at encouraging the Californian community to work harder in order to attain more wealth. California identifies with the Gold Rush that was an era, which brought California into a struggle for gold as a source of wealth. The “Introduction” of “Exterminate them” describes how the California dream became less credible with time owing to the displacement of the Indians by people who were in a mission to attain financial dreams (Trafzer and Joel 20). These Spaniards had travelled from far to seek gold and other forms of wealth at the coat. The Spaniards who deprived the Indians of their rights and liberty seized the freedom of the land (Starr 23). The intention of the Spaniards was to spread religious values to California but this intention was sidelined with diseases and epidemics that spread to the Native Indians, some of whom died from infections. The Spaniards did not stop here as they killed and harassed the rest of the Indians and these efforts eventually enabled them to take over the political and economic control in California. Spread of religion by the Spaniards was a scapegoat for them to take over the culture. The Native Americans lived in California before the Indians and the upsurge of the Gold Rush empowered more communities in the land to generate more wealth and power from the gold. There was a major change in the moral standard and the Californian community was filled with murder, jealousy and other vices. These vices were against the features of the Californian dream, which formerly upheld the beauty of California. The effects of the vices that developed in a society were so much that the nation regretted the California dream and the Gold rush, which was seen as the root of all the evils that dominated the lucky nation (Starr 36).

Trafzer and Joel (23) continually points out that the Native Americans did not live peaceably with the Indians since they took over the political, economic, and social superiority in the land of California. It is from this change of power and social class that the Whites and the Indians hated each other and their racial differences brought murder, jealousy, hate and other socially unacceptable qualities. The Indians had developed an upper hand from the period of the Gold rush and they somewhat looked down on the Native Americans who were in the lower step in the social pedestal. The Natives did not receive the news with gladness and they refused to be trampled by outsiders in their own land. The tag of war that rose from the two races eventually turned California from the dream nation into a land filled with evil and vices (Starr 34). The beauty and luck that was accompanied by the Californian fame was no more and instead more people were killed from racial feuds and cases of rape and land grabbing were rampant. The population in California rose steadily after the Gold rush, as a result, intermarriage and interaction in the gold mines. The Indians eventually took over the nation’s politics and additionally took the upper hand in the economy. The Indians who had displaced the America from their positions in the industrial and political sector now dominated most businesses and industries. The Americans were actively involved in carrying the Californian Dream higher and they identified with the spirit that united them together and gave them a sense of belonging in their country, California. By 1849, many Anglos came into California to seek opportunities that were related to gold and in their attempt; they were forced to eliminate native Indians who were a hindrance to their goal and their dreams. The Indians lived the Californian dream by creating room for their interest to benefit from the gold deposits in California. In addition, outbreak of diseases shortly in California killed many Indians. The remaining populations of the Indians were killed through cold blood murder and slaughter. The remaining Indians were harassed by the whites and thus made them uncomfortable in Californian and this move by the whites destroyed the Californian dream that sought to create an image of a peaceful and caring nation, California (Mathews 41). The extermination of indigenous population in California was done in a way to give outsiders a chance to occupy the state and to profit from its resources. The historical facts of California lies on the transformations that took place from the time that the California Dream was launched to the challenges that faced the dream that made it futile and feeble. The racial differences between the Native Americans and the Indians were a permanent tag of war that led the nation into hate and war. Though the Indians attempted to overtake the political and economic fronts of California, the Whites rose to eliminate the Indians through death, harassment while nature took over and killed the rest for the Indians by disease and epidemics. California had lost its glory, its light grew dim on the face of the world, and the Californian Dream was no more. The historical truth in the history of California remains to be the glory of her dream that was eroded by the rise in evils such as hate and murder and the cause of the hate was deeply rooted in ethnic and racial differences.

“Indian Cartography” by Deborah Miranda presents the occurrences that took place in California during the reign of the Indians, the Spanish, and Native Americans. Their plucky and beautiful presence in California, according to Miranda is followed by an enchanted land that grasps the memories of the once lucky and beautiful country of California. Deborah Miranda tells how the history and the splendor of California is erased by flooding waters but the memories of the California dream remains vividly in the hearts of California and other nations.

“My father’s boyhood: days he learned how to swim the hard way, all the days he walked across the river scales, swollen belies of swollen salmon coming back to a river that wasn’t there. The government paid those Indians to move away, he says; I don’t know where they went. In my father’s dreams after the solace of a six-pack, he follows a longing, deepness. When he comes to the valley drowned by a displaced river he swims out, floats on his face with eyes open, looks down into the lands not drawn on any map. ”

Miranda paints the picture of the fallen dream and the lost glory of California and presents the difference between the era of the Californian Dream and the ruins of the country after the dream was aborted. The rivers have swept away the beauty and splendor of California and she is left with the memories of her past and the experiences that she has been through.

Works Cited

Starr, Kevin. Inventing the Dream: California Through the Progressive Era. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. Internet resource.
Matthews, G. (2003). Silicon Valley, Women, and the California Dream: Gender, Class, and Opportunity in the Twentieth Century. Stanford, Calif: Stanford Univ. Press.
Starr, Kevin. Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. Print.
Trafzer, Clifford E., and Joel R. Hyer. “Introduction.” Exterminate Them: Written Accounts of the Murder, Rape, and Slavery of Native Americans during the California Gold Rush, 1848-1868. East Lansing: Michigan State UP, 1999. Print.

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Man, this is not simply bad, this is awful. Like if I was 80 years old, and I jumped with a parachute, and it did not open, and I fell in the ocean, and a shark bit my leg off, and I had no money for prosthetics – that's how bad this paper is.

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