Until They Became Landless Non-Citizens

MadleyFrom Benjamin Madley’s An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873, quoted early and often at last week’s Bartimaeus Kinsler Institute in Southern California.

…federal lawmakers expelled California Indians from mainstream colonial California society and relegated them to a shadowy legal and social status between man and beast. This was not preordained. In each phase of legislation, anti-Indian views prevailed over more sympathetic voices, each time pushing Indians farther beyond the bounds of citizenship and community. Through a succession of laws, legislators slowly denied California Indians membership in the body politic until they became landless non-citizens, with few legal rights and almost no legal control over their own bodies. Indians became, for many Anglo-Americans, nonhumans. This legal exclusion of California Indians from California society was a crucial enabler of mass murder.

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