Wrong upon wrong

Unidentified man in front of traditional house

Unidentified man in front of traditional house

After the massacres  “Exodus”  wrote a letter to the San Francisco Bulletin.  In the letter (s) he observed

“Individuals constitute a community, and the acts of each member make up the common character of the whole body.  It must be expected that villains will grumble and snarl; but it is the duty of the Press, the Bench, the Pulpit, and of every honest man, to denounce crime.  This is a duty which we owe to Heaven and the society  in which we live—not merely a passive duty, for their villainies must go unpunished, and each good citizen will be victimized in his turn—but an active, zealous duty, bringing to justice especially those who out-savage the savage.  We must not lay the flattering unction to our souls that in the great day of account and retribution, when the catalogue of human frailties and crimes is read out, we have disapproved sufficiently by our silence along, lest the Mene Tekel—“thou art weighted in the balance and found wanting”—be pronounced against us and “thou shouldst not follow a multitude to do evil”. [San Francisco Bulletin,  April 23, 1860]

Exodus was prompted by what he (I’m just going to say “he” though ok, it might have been a woman) saw as a compounding of wrong upon wrong.

Many, or a few very verbal and outspoken, in Humboldt County saw the massacre as the inevitable result of racial intermixing and segregation as the only solution.  I could comment on the following, but the articles say too much already…

 1860, Mar. 28–Plan to Remedy the Indian Difficulty

To any one who has given the subject the least attention, or is acquainted with the Indian character, it must be apparent that the two races cannot live together.  The Indians  of this coast are not capable of either honesty, industry, or gratitude.  They cannot be controlled except with a strong hand. Before they can be made to respect and obey, they must be taught to fear the consequences of disobedience. The natives must be removed by some means or the county abandoned to their possession. To make war upon them with the purpose of indiscriminate “extermination,” is neither wise or humane, neither good policy nor right.  Some other mode to rid the country of their dangerous presence should be adopted. Those living near the settlements should be removed to the Reservation.

 We are authorized by the Superintendent of Indian Affairs of this State, to say that he will receive and retain them, if he can have the assistance and cooperation of our citizens. That officers require assistance in collecting the Indians together, and an assurance from our people to the Indians that they will not be permitted again to live in this county. This plan, no doubt, is perfectly practicable, and in a short time we may have riddance of a very large number, who, if they do not themselves commit depredations, have furnished arms and ammunition to the mountain Indians. The removal of these “friendly” Indians will cut off the supplies and break up the hiding places of those openly hostile.  To carry this plan into effect there must be favorable concert of action on the part of the people.  Let there be not favorites excepted, and no tampering with the Indians allowed. All of the coast Indians out of the way, measures can be taken toward those openly hostile, living in the mountains, that will effectually put a stop to their depredations. [The Northern Californian]

 April 11, 1860-Removal of the Indians-There is an opportunity now offered for the removal of the Indians of this county, living around the bay and near the settlements.  Col. Buel, Agent in charge of the Klamath Reservation—is at present here, and proposed to remove them if he finds it to be the wishes of our citizens, and that they will render him the necessary assistance…. This gentleman has but little money of the Department.. neither does it require but little if our citizens are united … and willing to devote some time in collecting the Indians. — The removal of the Indians is desired by nine-tenths of the people of Humboldt County, we think no one man will gainsay; in fact, we do not know but he question would carry unanimously; it certainly ought to…. the most feasible plan… is for the residents to .. unite in assisting … in immediately collecting the Indians.  It need take but two or three days to gather them up… – It is urged that the Klamath reserve is so near, the Indians would not remain on it, but would, in a short time, return to their old homes… at Mendocino the Reservation was in no fit state of preparation to receive them; whereas at the Klamath, good houses have been prepared and an abundance of food provided… Col. Buel has no fears [of them returning] as his arrangements are such that he can prevent anything of that kind, particularly if the Indians are made to understand by the people of this county, that they will not be permitted to live here, should they come back. – They should be made fully to comprehend this fact, and if any of them make the experiment, they ought to be dealt with in a manner that will act as a warning in the future. [The Northern Californian]

 April 15, 1860-Removal of Indians to Reservation, Klamath -Removal of the Lower Mad River Indians …In our last issue.. we suggested that as the agent having charge of the Klamath reserve was present, and ready to take charge of such Indians as could be gathered in, it would be well for our citizens to devote some time to the matter, and render .. aid… Upon consultation, Col. Buel found the people of this town anxious for the removal of the Indians, and ready to assist him by any and all means necessary…-The first step taken .. was to bring a few of the most important Indians into town, tell them what was to be done, and truthful statements and arguments to endeavor to convince them that it was for their interest that they should go, and that they should do willing; but willing or not, they were told that go they must and that immediately.  After urging countless objections against their leaving their old homes, and fears for their welfare on the reservation, they said they thought they would all go, but wanted a little time—two or three days—to make ready. To all this they were answered by the agent and citizens that if they did not consent to remove, force would be used to compel them; that should any of them succeed in eluding the agent and his assistants at this time, they would henceforth be treated as enemies; that before sunset every Lower Mad River Indian must be in town ready to start he next morning for the Klamath; that some of the party present were to remain in town while the others would accompany White Men to the different camps and rancherias to bring in the balance of the Indians and there was to be no more talk on the subject.

These few plain words had the desired effect and was no doubt what the Indians had expected would have been said to them long before.  They had talked the matter over.. and concluded to go peaceably and quietly…. when they should find that protestations and promises would no longer pass current and the White Men were united in  the determination to remove them.- As soon as the matter was settled, there was no further hesitation, but all set out to with a will to prepare for the journey.  Such property as they could carry with them was selected and the balance—including housing, boats and provisions—destroyed by the Indians themselves, for they were determined… that no other Indians should profit by them when they were gone.  By 4 o’clock in the afternoon they were all gathered, one hundred and thirty in number… On Thursday morning they were comparatively cheerful, and seemed to entertain no other thought other than to reach the Klamath as soon as possible, and with the purpose of remaining there. …-From the above, it may be seen how simple a matter it is to manage the Indians, when firmness is used and public sentiment united… Col. Buel is ready to receive the Indians at any time, and it is our fault if we allow those living on the coast to remain…. [The Northern Californian]


Exodus was horrified by these actions and this is what prompted the letter to S.F. 

THE EXPATRIATION OF GUILTLESS INDIANS AT HUMBOLDT BAY.  Eureka Cal., April 23, 1860.  to the Editor of the San Francisco Bulletin:-The last act in the tragic drama of murder and oppression, which began on Humboldt Bay on the 26th February last, has just been performed. the friendly aborigines, in number-150, have been removed from Humboldt county. Those on Mad River, about 120 in number, were first forcibly expelled from the residences, herded like cattle, and all, under the fear of death, had to leave their homes, as dear to them as ours are to us.  These Indians are not of the bands of diggers roving from hill to hill, to whom it would be but a matter of indifference on which they were, as the Humboldt Times might lead people at a distance to think, but are measurably civilized,.  Some of them speak our language, they have mingled with the whites, and were accustomed to aid in their domestic concerns.  Printed accounts show plainly a violation of section 2d, chapter 133, of the statutes of the State of California, in the removal of Indians from Mad River, which reads: “Nor shall they (the Indians) be forced to abandon their homes in villages where they have resided for a number of years.”  This act was passed on April 22, 1850.  It would have moved a heart of stone, to have seen these poor creatures grieving, burning up their boats and houses, and then driven from their homes—their “sacred hearths”—from the graves of their murdered relatives, from the land of their forefathers—a land still their own, for it has never been purchased, not have they received one iota as quid pro quo for all this country.  

 It becomes us not to correct false impression which have gone abroad (mainly propagated by a mendacious print here, probably pandering for votes,) by giving a statement  easily verified by any disinterested person, proving that the objections to this population were without foundation.  In many cases, these Indians were useful. They were divers and hands at the fisheries; they were harvesters, aiding the whites in getting in their grain, and brining them berries, fish and clams; they were packers and guides to mountain trains; while their wives were of much service to the ladies of Eureka, on their washdays and in other household duties.  

 Now to the center of objections: They were “Indians” . Well, that is true: and God forbid that color should be a criterion of merit in this country.  They killed nobody—neither women, children no cattle; they troubled nobody, and nobody’s property; they never were drunk nor drank liquor, and really were the most inoffensive and harmless Indians, perhaps the world ever saw.  But, says that newspaper, “They had beef-it was seen at Eel River, and on Indian Island; and they supplied the mountain tribes with “ammunition” to kill man and cattle.   Now the “beef” seen on Eel River was a part of a seal.  In its smoked condition it looked like beef but was not.   And for what purpose they had beef on Indian Island it is strange, as there neither man, woman or child would touch beef.  It is well known to families in Eureka that they have a superstitious antipathy to eating that kind of food, and are known to have thrown away meat given to them.  Well, the “ammunition”.  Now who should have been punished for the supply, if furnished to the mountain tribes?  But we hear nothing of that now, since it has been ascertained that these later killed the cattle with bows and arrows.  A man whose business gives him an opportunity to know, says that he last cow shot with a gun was nine months ago, and poor Ellison, the last man killed (a year since) was rashly following up some twenty Indians—seen carrying off beef—with his party of about four men, firing into them, and had actually killed two In before, in a return fire of arrows, one wounded him in the groin, from which he died a few days subsequently. 

 Facts also disprove all friendship between those poor creatures of the bay and the mountain tribes, for not one of them fled to them for succor, but took to the bush and elsewhere, when their wives and children were butchered, and they hunted for their precious lives.  some six years past a party of them went to the mountains to pick acorns, and carried fish to purchase the privilege; but he mountain In scattered their fish along the road, and killed two of them.  They have never been there since.  These mountain tribes would murder them all if they could, and I blush for my color when remembering their allies.  These unhappy Indians were killed for no crime whatever.  They were slain on account of a false military prestige, or resentment to higher powers for not mustering a band of restless whites into service; and the survivors have been driven from their homes to convey a false impression.  …  Exodus.


5 Responses to Wrong upon wrong

  1. […] there were many who wanted the natives driven from the Humboldt Bay area, there were some, such as Exodus,  that recognized the injustice of it […]

  2. […] the Indian Island Massacre,    the surviving natives living along the bay were forced to abandon their homes and walk miles over rough terrain to the Klamath Reservation,   where they would be “safe” and […]

  3. I sincerely appreciate the effort you are taking to tell the story of the Native people of the northwest coastal and inland areas. I wonder if you have any information on the man who was known as “Lassik” (should be ell-ai-sec) – he was in the Humboldt stockade before being taken by ship and forced march to the Klamath Reservation. Also, looking for references to White Lily, d’oan-ell, d’oneil, and Saccah (aka saka). anyone who can offer assist will be greatly appreciated. Descendant of Kaiicin (White Lily) of the Upper Mad River/Van Dusen area and prior to that they were on the South Fork of the Trinity R.

    • lynette77 says:

      I just wanted to let you know that I believe I’ve been in touch with another woman from your family.

      I will look up the details and get back to you as soon as I know more.

      I also have info about Lassic. A first had description of him when he was captured and kept on the Samoa Penisula.
      I’ll be able to dig this up and get it to you tomorrow.


  4. Tom Darby says:

    The picture you have posted is from a glass negative transfer created in 1895 (HSU Photo Collections.) The man’s name is Old Kaha. I am truly enjoying your website.

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