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tv   Lectures in History California Native Americans and Early 1800s Capitalism  CSPAN  August 26, 2019 9:53pm-11:12pm EDT

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mit center of collective intelligence, discuss "super minds." the national book festival, live saturday at 10:00 a.m. eastern on book tv on c-span2. in the wake of the recent shootings in el paso, texas, and dayton, ohio, the house judiciary committee will return early from the summer recess to mark up gun violence prevention bills which include banning high capacity ammunition magazines, restricting firearms from those deem paid court to be a risk to themselves, preventing individuals convicted of misdemeanor heat crimes from purchasing a gun. wednesday, september 4th, at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span and live coverage using the free c-span radio app. now on american history tv, a discussion on native americans and capitalism in early 19th century california.
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we hear about local tribes' commercial interactions with spanish missions and fur traders and the items these groups exchanged, including livestock fabric and fur. this is an hour and 15 minutes. >> all right, today's lecture is going to pull together some of the topics that we've been exploring throughout the semester. the spanish colonization of north america, contributions of native american societies to development of the various colonies, manifest destiny and the american conquest of northern mexico. and the american west's role in the sectional crisis over slavery. we're going to examine them from a slightly different perspective. a few weeks ago we read about indian removal in the 19th century. and how it shaped and was shaped by the expansion of american democracy as well as the united states' expanding cotton economy. in your readings, indian nations like the cherokees, for example, were clearly victimized by the
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united states government in the state of georgia as well as land-hungry settlers, but the cherokee nation's willingness to adaptist practices and institutions illustrate how indians throughout north america continued well beyond the colonial era to change in creative and dynamic ways to make cocolonialism work as much as possible in their favor. with that in mind i want to revisit california today. when don't i want to revisit california? and consider the ways that california indian societies continued this practice beyond the mission era, which you're familiar with, and helped to build california's economy, attract american settlers, and transform this remote territory into an economically vital american state during the gold rush. and as with every other region in north america this transformation hinged on the work of indian people. as you remember from the very beginning of the semester, catholic missionaries were the vanguard of spanish colonial settlement in california. a northern frontier in which indians would be converted into
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spanish subjects loyal to the crown and willing to put their lives on the line to defend spain's claim to north america. in their approach to the hunter gatherer societies of california this meant economic conversion as well as spiritual conversion. on one hand doing the lord's work meant indians doing spanish work. herding, farming, skilled trades, domestic service. on the other hand, the lord's work required money, which was scarce in colonial california. but sometimes that money could be made in ways that aligned with the spiritual goals of the missions. the hide and tallow trade for example was the backbone of california's economy before the gold rush and the indian cowboys who tended the mission herds were the most important segment of california's workforce in the mission era. richard henry dana was an american sailor aboard the boston-based ship "the pilgrim." he observed that mission santa clara and mission san jose on california's san francisco bay did, in his words, quote, a
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greater business in hides than any in california. large boats manned by indians and capable of carrying nearly 1,000 hides appeals are attached to the missions and sent down to the vessels with hides to bring away goods in return. dana himself spent much of his two years in california from 1834 to '36 curing those hides and loading them aboard the ship. so he had a healthy appreciation for the economic significance of indian labor at the missions. thousands of pounds of hides. i'll also note that dana in a wonderful portrait bears more than a passing resemblance to 1980s heavy metal legend glen danzig. separated at birth? who knows? dana's ship was one of many contenders for california's hides and tallow. in 1833 the british fur trade company, the hudson bay company, began trading out of san francisco bay for hides, tallow, and wheat all produced by indians. these commodities were exchanged for british and american manufactured goods, especially calico cloth, which as you
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remember from our discussion of the french colonies, cloth was always a major trade item. the russian fur trade company, the russian american company, established a fort, fort ross, on california's northern coast in 1812, for the specific purpose of producing wheat to ship to its main fur trade outpost in sitka, alaska. they failed to produce enough wheat and the russian american company became a buyer of california mission wheat as well. american traders were the most prevalent in california especially from the boston-based firm bryant sturgis and company which dominated trade between the pacific coast of north america and china. "the pilgrim" was a bryant sturgis and company ship. the hide and tallow trade was the most official economic economy in california during the mission era. unofficially the trade in stolen mission cattle, horses and mules became another important source of trade in california's most important commodity, livestock.
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beginning in 1830, new mexican trading parties began visiting california to purchase mules. part of what was then called the santa fe trail. historians usually associate the santa fe trail with this connection between missouri, and if you follow the dotted line, to santa fe and new mexico. the santa fe trail extended to a lesser extent into california ending in los angeles. they carried trade goods with them and ranged throughout the interior of california in search of the best and least expensive livestock. much of that stock was obtained through trade with indians. for example, in 1831, a new mexican trading party arrived at mission san gabriel outside of los angeles loaded woup with wool and blank kets. an american fur trapper traveling with these traders reported the party returned to santa fe later that year with many mules in his words of very fine form. the cost of those mules quote brought in barter for blankets, caused quite a sensation in new
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mexico. now these same mules which were purchased with blankets were then resold in santa fe at these trade fairs for between $6 and $10 apiece in cash. you can see turning blankets into consider in remote colonial economic outposts would have been immensely valuable. not surprisingly, the following year, 1832, santa fe traders returned to california and then came back home to santa fe with about 600 mules and 100 horses. so that was an opportunity too good to pass up. some of these animals were purchased through legitimate trade. meaning they were purchased from the actual owners of the animals. but much of the stock that new mexican traders bought off indians was stolen. in february of 1833, one priest reported that new mexican traders had made off with 108 mules that had been stolen by indians from mission san miguel. a priest from mission san
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gabriel complained the introduction of articles of commerce by natives of new mexico has caused extensive robberies, open and concealed. they sell, they trade, they induce indians to steal animals to sell. when los angeles authorities attempted to stop these thefts by requiring new jerse ining nes to submit to inspections. when they were caught the extent of their theft was pretty astounding. in one raid in january of 1833, california authorities confiscated more than 200 stolen animals. in another raid the next month resulted in the confiscation of 430 stolen animals. so pretty big herds of hot livestock. in northern california, the situation was no better. the trade in stolen livestock was so lucrative that british fur trade company, the hudsons bay company, got in on the action along with independent american fur trappers. even legitimate corporations were involved in purchasing
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stolen livestock that they knew was stolen. in april of 1833 the govern of california complained quote the british and americans established on the columbia river, referring to the british hudsons bay company which was headquartered on the columbia river, make frequent incursions into this country on the pretext of trapping beavers and other quadri pedestrians. scattering over various regions they identify themselves with the wild natives following the same kind of life. they live in a wandering fashion with them and become familiar and gain their confidence. from this has come rapidly one positive evil, namely that influenced by these adventurers the natives have dedicated themselves with the greatest determination to the stealing of horses from all the missions and towns of this territory. the natives in question in the governor's statement were indian people from the san joaquin valley of california. speakers of a language called yokitz. much like the chumash that you
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remember part of the politically independent but culturally related groups that each community saw themselves as being separate and distinct but they all kind of spoke a common language. then also plains miwak speakers from multiple independent villages all speaking the same language. from the sacramento, san joaquin, dwell that region. these were a mix of so-called wild indians and indians that had received baptisms in the missions. as opposed to wild indians who never had benefit of baptism in the missions. drawing on stock-handling skills they had learned in the missions indian livestock rustlers could make off with large herds of mission stock and find shelter in the interior. this is an image of mission san gabriel down by los angeles. it's a little washed out because of the lighting. if you could see a little bit closer, you would notice that there are some indian men here in the photo, sorry in the
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painting, that are dressed pretty elegantly. especially by contrast with the women in the image who are dressed in sort of like spanish peasant garb. the indian men are cowboys and they're dressed -- they look like a mariachi band, dressed really nicely. that shows you the value that missionaries placed on the work that these cowboys did, that they were allowed, first of all, to ride horses, which was generally forbidden to indians within the california mission system, and secondly, to dress pretty nice. they were not dressed in the garb of peasants, which is of course what the priests always hoped that california indian converts would be. a common technique used in livestock theft was for raiders or thieves to approach the mission in the middle of the night and open the gates of the horse corral, which they know where this is because they themselves once lived in the mission or they have friends and family did that $, so they have
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a good sense of the lay of the land. then they would wait patiently, sometimes for hours, for the horses to sort of wander out of the corral slowly of their own will. and once the herd had left the corral, and hopefully ideally wandered a good half mile or so away, the rustlers would mount up on their own horses and drive the animals at full gallop till dawn. they would find a secluded spot to hide out and rest the horses. once night fell continue the drive until they reached their destination, however many days it took. when horses tried to break from the herd, the rustlers brought them back into line using sort of ingenious native technique. they would fire their arrows at the errant horses, but tie two sticks around the arrowhead an inch from the top, or the tip, that when they fired the arrows into the horses it would just stick them a little bit enough to hurt, not enough to do any damage to this valuable livestock. one observer of this technique noted the horse immediately
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takes his place again in the band and it is very seldom that the indians are obliged to punish one unruly horse twice for that offense. now this is bad enough from the perspective of the missionaries. but to make matters worse, livestock rustling often went hand in hand with running away. in june of 1819, a priest from mission san jose reported that the village of maqualimie in central california harbored 60 stolen horses as well as quote numerous christian fugitives who are their friends and neighbors. but this is a map that shows the location of the various missions. so you have san gabriel, the one we just saw the painting by los angeles. san juan batista is farther into northern california, close to san francisco bay. the priest asked the governor of california for 12 soldiers that he could send out into the field to attack the village and retrieve both the horses and the fugitives that had run away from the mission. the governor granted his request because livestock theft was a
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serious enough problem. and the priest reported back months later that the expedition had succeeded in rescuing 49 of the 60 horses but in the priest's words sadly quote not a soul was brought back to the mission. when one considers the skill and courage of these horse thieves, it's not surprising that the missionaries met with such limited success. i love this image. this is an image that was taken or recorded in 1856 by some surveyors who were involved in surveying the central valley of california for potential railroad track, where might be a good spot to build a railroad. for what would ultimately become the transcontinental railroad. and this one is titled "plain between the san joaquin and king rivers." the interior central part of california. 1856, one of the most notable things about the plain between the san joaquin and the king's
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river was the presence of these mounted indian stock rustlers. and one of the reasons why i love this image so much is because it happens after the gold rush. which indicates to me that even after california becomes a state, even after gold mining becomes its major reason for existence, we still see that indian stock rustling is a large part of the central valley economy. that this trade persists. the other thing i really like about it is that there is -- probably not for you in tennessee but in california there is a stereotype that california indians were very docile, very easily defeated, very peaceful and noncombative. california indians don't have the same kind of public image assay mounted lakota warrior on horseback with the feathered headdress. they're kind of not as bad-ass so to speak in the popular imagination as plains indians. so i love this image because that guy's pretty fierce.
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right? he doesn't quite have the full feathered headdress but he's got some feathers going on, right? he looks like he could do some damage. either to your horse herds or you if you try to get in his way. i like that even well into the gold rush years, people still acknowledged that these mounted livestock rustlers in the central valley were kind of bad. you know, bad, bad. rustling also offered indians new opportunities to survive and thrive in the california interior. stock raiding led to a population explosion of wild horses in the central valley. an english visitor, william garner, estimated to have seen 3,000 wild horses during two days of travel in the valley in the 1840s. a miner on the eve of the gold rush claimed that in the central valley -- or that the central valley in his words quote contains a larger portion of wild horses than any other part of the world to the same extent. on the western side of the san
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joaquin river they are seen from bands from 200 to 2,000, enormous herds of wild horses. these herds, in addition to providing a very lucrative source of trade, also provided a basis of subsistence for california indians living in the interior. they were an abundant food source. you're probably not going to end up trading those wild horses but you can still rely on them economically by eating them, right? one newspaper reported in 1847 that from the river in the north to the source of the san joaquin river in the south, indians had become in their words so habituated to living on horse flesh that it is now with them the principal means of subsistence. remember acorns and salmon fishing had been the mainstay of the california indian diet. now by the 1840s, we see that at least in the san joaquin valley and the interior part of california, horse meat becomes a new staple.
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livestock raiding went hand in hand with the fur trade as the many, many complaints made by california authorities about the hudsons bay company indicate. the hudsons bay company, that british fur trade company, and the russian american company, the russian fur trade company, engaged in fur trade within california as well as other economic activities. and it's not surprising that california missionaries, upon seeing this economic activity, put mission indians to work at this lucrative pursuit as well. i brought a river map to give you a sense of the extent of california's central valley. so this is the head waters of the san joaquin river, the southernmost extent of the horse eating. the maqualimie river right here. this sort of green central part of california is the great central valley of california
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where this livestock trading, horse eating, and ultimately fur trading is going to be taking place. the sacramento san joaquin delta region was the finest trapping ground in california. california's beaver population has not quite recovered from this era. but the sacramento and san joaquin delta is this triangle of land right there. kind of bracketed in by the san joaquin, maqualmie, and sacramento rivers. it abounded with beaver at the time. and a type of otter that we river otter. primarily of the hudsons bay fur trade in california. are you familiar with california sea otters? california sea otters are amazing, they have a million
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hairs per square inch. you can imagine when you're imagining, hey what kind of fur could we get that we could sell for a lot of money? the fur of an animal that has a million hairs per square inch is going to be worth a lot. going after beaver and land otter as they were called is not quite the hot economic activity that going after sea otters would be. but as the sea otter population began to plummet almost to the point of extinction in the 19th century, these big fur trading firms began to turn their attention to sort of the not quite as awesome critters, the california beaver, which were not as great as sea otters and the land otter. the plains miwok speaking people ironically had no native technologies for fur trapping. so you might have garnered from my many comments about california over the course of the semester, california's got really nice weather.
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and in the sacramento, san joaquin, delta region you're talking about a change in temperature from like winter to summer of like 40 degrees, maybe. so, oh, it's freezing, it's in the 50s in the winter. then i'm hot in the 90s in the summer. but in that narrow window, that narrow temperature variation, you don't have the need for a lot of clothes. so california indians in all seasons largely went pretty naked. because you didn't have to bundle up. so there's no need to hunt beaver. there's no need to worry yourself about catching an animal that has tons of hairs per square inch because you're going to be naked because the weather's awesome in california. even better in southern california where it never gets into the 50s. you're talking about the 60s minimum in the wintertime. so they have no native technologies really for dealing with fur-bearing animals. sometimes they hunted beaver occasionally for food.
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evidently beaver tail is quite a delicacy, mainly in canada. but nothing for dressing furs, nothing for turning fur into clothing or anything. so when they trap, which they begin doing certainly by the 1820s, under the authority of the spanish missions, they do so for the sole purpose of obtaining trade goods. it is their only reason for trapping. they wouldn't have done it otherwise. the spanish missionaries didn't really appreciate the new mexican traders' efforts to induce indians to steal livestock but they were not above paying trade goods to indians themselves in order to get indians to drop for them. oh, these new mexican traders are ripping us off, scamming these indians by paying them beads and cloth to steal livestock, outrage upon the indians. but hey, indians, here's some cloth, beads, you want to trap? there's not really walking the walk.
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hudsons bay company as well got in on this action. they sent yearly brigades into california between 1828 and 1843. the chief california brigade leader, alexander mccloud, reported to his boss in 1828 quote beaver is become an article of traffic on the coast as at the mission of st. joseph, meaning san jose. alone upwards of 1,500 beaver skins were collected from the madives at trifling value and sold to ships at $3. like with livestock trade with new mexican traders we're going to pay the indians trinkets and they're going to bring us something we trade for cash, which would have been a boon to any trader. he affirmed that the source of the skins was party of indian trappers in the delta, explaining quote our people while trapping at the junction of the rivers within the influence of the ocean, meaning
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where the tide still has pull, met several indians employed hunting beaver. the indians collect a few skins which they barter at the mission for red and white beads and wearing abarrel. 1837, a british sea captain sailed his ship up the sacramento river and he noted that the indian trade in beaver skins for which mission san jose had emerged as early headquarters had been so successful with a little bit of help from drought, which happens pretty regularly in california, to leave the sacramento river and all its tributaries nearly devoid of beaver and otter. those that remained he described of being subpar quality, in his words refuse. all the decent beaver and otter had been trapped out. this captain encountered mission indians below the american river on the sacramento, below the american river, with passes, literally the missionaries had written passes saying, these indians have our permission to do this trapping. and they were given passes
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specifically allowing them to leave mission san jose and the influence of the christian missionaries and spanish civilization to trade for furs with so-called wild inians that had never been in the missions. so think about fromperspective. yes, please go back and be with the wild indians. that's how valuable fur trapping would have been. these wild indians are their neighbors, friends, family members, fellow tribes people, all the folks they knew before they came into the missions. these are their crew. and so when mission indians left with these passes, they went home to engage in this trade. throughout the 18-teens, '20s, '30s. trappers from plains miwok speaking communities in the delta were incredibly good at their work, very protective of their trapping grounds. one american trapper -- you might recognize this name, sort of in the lore about american
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mountain men, jedediah smith. yeah, okay, we know jedediah smith. not to be confused with jedediah springfield, the founder of springfield in "the simpsons." he was struck when he visited central california by the hostile reception his trapping party received from indians in 1828. so this suggests to me that these indian people immediately identified jedediah smith's party is an economic threat and understood the economic competition that their presence would have presented to the indian trapping efforts. smith himself interpreted the indians' reluctance to meet him or accept his gifts as evidence of their fear of strangers. like the indians were so simple they didn't understand the white men didn't hurt them. but the indians were not so timid and scared of the white men that they were willing to sit by and let jedediah smith's party trap their river without a
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fight. outright violence broke out between the indians and jedediah smith's party as soon as his party attempted to set their traps in the river. the next morning when they returned to their traps they realized that all their traps had been taken by the indians. he reported quote a good many had been taken by the indians who showed themselves on the opposite side of the river. like, what are you going to do about it? so what could have been for the indian people along the river an unfortunate episode of poaching, because these were our beavers, this is our river, you can't poach our stuff, actually turned into a pretty good economic opportunity. they stole the traps. all the beaver that might have been in them. and frightened off their competition. so that's just good business. and a little bit of a mob kind of way, but good business. little threats to the competition.
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and of course making off with expensive metal traps which, as we know, the native people of north america did not work iron or steel themselves. so making off with those iron traps would have been -- steel traps, rather, would have been huge economic advantage. the following year alexander mccloud, the chief brigade leader of the hudsons bay company california brigade, noted indians stole traps and horses from his party. traps and horses. we can get them on both ends, right? steal their traps and sell their horses. and he reported that deserters from jedediah smith's party from the year before tried to stick around in the central valley and stay behind and do more trapping after their disastrous encounter with the indians on the river and ended up getting killed by indians. the indians were, you absolutely will not poach in our territory. these are not timid people who don't understand the motivations of these fur traders.
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hudsons bay company southern brigade leader john work noted in spring 1833 indians along the river -- these guys apparently were the guys to be afraid of, not messing around at all. he noted those indians quote seem to steal the traps for the sang of the beaver in them. ah-ha, they seem to be stealing the beaver, because the beaver are valuable, go figure. so this vigorous defense of trapping grounds by a plains miwok speaking people reflects the economic importance of indian trapping. which is especially notable given that neither the river indians or the moqalmie indians entered into the mission system until 1884. running off the competition, trying to get the traps and the beavers for themselves, is happening before they have any formal affiliation with the missions. so they don't even need to be directed by the missionaries to
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do these things. as soon as they imagine economic opportunity they're seizing it and performing it independently. so they were probably among the wild indians that mission indians were sent out to trade with. when white settlers began arriving in the central valley in the 1830s they became yet another market for indian furs. probably the most famous 19th century californian, john sutter. john sutter, who was the proprietor of a colony known as new helvitia, offered trade goods to indian trappers in exchange for beaver, otter, fur-berg animal skins. a wonderful portrait of john sutter, probably his best, most flattering portrait. we need to bring back, what is that called? that fashion? ascot. we need to bring back the ascot, a good look.
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he put himself in direct competition with the hudsons bay company, with mission san jose, and with a growing number of other settlers in the central valley as a buyer of indian furs. so by the fall of 1841, only two years after he founded his colony, sutter claimed, kind of a notorious liar so i'm going to say claimed, to be selling some 3,000 beaver pelts per year. even if it's only half of that, his trapping crew was like some 20 guys. so to imagine -- then the trapping season is like the fall and early winter. to imagine 20 guys doing that kind of damage over a pretty limited number of months in the year, he was doing a pretty brisk business. indian trappers for their part incorporated sutter into their own fur trade marketplace. they did not need to be told, go out and do this. hey, we've got another buyer,
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one more guy we can potential he sell these things too. along with the hudsons bay company and mission san jose, sutter became one buyer among many potential buyers. they shopped their furs around to find the best prices on the most desirable trade goods. cloth. in the case of california indians, beads, which functioned as cash, a currency in the california indian economy. one plains miwok speaking village which was situated on the sacramento river in the southern part of the delta became a headquarters of the indian fur trade where indian middlemen took furs from trappers, some of them technically sutter's employees, and marketed them to whoever could provide the best return on their trade goods. so these guys were like, yeah, okay, we work for you, we'll take your pay, then sell our furs to somebody else who's going to pay us better. so you get paid on both ends. sutter's colony in new helvitia
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is a great case study how indians in california made best use of economic possibilities afforded by colonialism. fur trappers were but one segment of new helvitia's workforce. plains speaking and wimok valley speaking worked at fur trapping, livestock tending, to weaving cloth, harvesting wheat, you name it and an indian was doing it. the buildings you see were built of a particular type of brick called adobe which was very common in california. pretty common throughout northern mexico, what we would now call the southwest. all built by indians. so the entire place was sort of a monument to the willingness of indians to engage in this economic activity. i don't want to overstate my case. there were some indians affiliated with new helvitia,
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just as there were some in the mission system, who were less willing, who many observers described as being enslaved. were they actual property? being worked as if they were slaves? it's not clear. certainly not all indians affiliated with any aspect of the colonial california economy were doing this completely voluntarily. but what really strikes me is how many were. and especially among cowboys and trappers. this was prestige work. and it tended to be something that didn't require a lot of force or a lot of coercion to get indian men to participate in. the most important trade goods in trading with indians at new helvitia were the same at almost everywhere else in california. cloth, beads. especially woolen manta cloth and cotton calico.
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but also knives, axes, fish hooks, blankets, needles, thread, flour. but again, we talked about the idea of some commodities having elastic demand and other commodities having inelastic demand. so there's a limited number of axes that you're going to need but everybody wants more clothes. california indians are going to want more beads because everybody wants more cash. these were always the price the indians demanded for their participation in this economy. while these goods kind of seemed like in some ways because they're metal or manufactured cloth, or in the case of the beads, glass instead of seashell or bone, they seem like a novel innovation in indian life in the california interior. but indians use them in ways that were completely culturally relevant and familiar. so they didn't have to reinvent the wheel with axes and fish hooks. manufactured cloth. indian trappers took
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manufactured cloth in payment for all kinds of services and they took abundant amounts on credit from sutter. i'll take the cloth now but do the work for you next tuesday. the cloth represented, for california indians, many hours of labor saved for the indian craftspeople who otherwise had to produce it by hand, by splitting tree bark or grass stalks into fine fibers, spinning fibers into thread, then laboriously hand-weaving that thread into finished fabric. makes sense people didn't wear too many clothes. if the weather afforded the opportunity, you would take that opportunity. other clothing was produced by weaving feathers into cloaks. some of which were spectacular. the plains, manipulate. wok speaking people, like most hunter gatherer societies in the
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world relied on gathered vegetable resources and women were the primary gatherers in these societies. so bore the primary responsibility for sustaining and provisioning their communities. so think about the convenience that would have been represented by not having to make your own fabric. not having to weave your own blankets out of feathers. not having to pluck all those birds. so manufactured cloth is an important time saver. it's a convenience product that would have had immediate and noticeable positive effect on a person's daily or weekly schedule. among one village on the american river, wild duck feathers were an important source of clothing and blankets. one visitor, willian dane phelps, observed women weaving wild duck feather blanket. the labor of making one of these blankets is immense. captain sutter presented me with one which he assumed occupied six females four months in the making.
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if you could get a machine-made length of calico cloth, you're saving a lot of time. i'm going to say wool probably instead of calico in this case. i'm going to say wool's probably the warmer option. but whatever it may be, you were saving yourself a tremendous amount of time. think of the hours freed up in these women's schedules for doing other economic activity. sleeping or doing anything. plains miwok speaking men participated in cloth manufacturing. weaving fethers and rabbit skins into cloaks and blankets which clothed villagers of both sexes during ceremonies, cold weather. cold weather in california. so in plains miwok speaking communities access to manufactured cloth enabled men to enjoy enhanced status and prestige. and women to enjoy enhanced status and prestige that derives from the very real economic responsibility of clothing your family and clothing your
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community members while reaffirming, this is what makes me a man, this is what makes me a woman. gender division of labor is very important in california indian societies as almost anywhere else in the world. and so the idea that you are fulfilling your duty as a man, fulfilling your duty as a woman, was intimately tied into economic activities. so you can see that not only is there a real economic benefit to it, there's also a reaffirmation of your culture inherent in it. then of course it makes you more economically important within your community. so imagine being the guy that got paid in beads. beads are valuable because they're currency. they operate as cash in transactions between different california indian societies. and also it is necessary to have a few beads. by a few i mean a lot of beads in order to pay the bride price
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for marriage. you're familiar with ideas like dowry and bride price, that you are taking your future wife out of her parents' household and there's going to be now less work happening in her parents' household so you have to sort of not pay fare her, but you have to reimburse her parents for losing the value of her labor. we've talked about this. the only reason to have children is to get free labor. i still haven't worked that out, mine won't work unless threatened. in theory the reason to have children is for free labor. so you've got to have beads on hand. if i'm losing my daughter's economic productivity, i'm not losing much, but in theory, if i'm losing my daughter's economic productivity, you know, i'm going to want something really good for it. the best thing that you can get is cash. everybody wants to get paid in cash.
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these disk-shaped clamshell beads were white beads became the fundamental unit of currency in the california indian economy. then beginning in the mission era and extending well into the gold rush era european and american traders introduced manufactured glass beads imported from europe. one color, white, made from clamshell, i can getfy trade with indians north of san francisco. all of a sudden every white person you come across is like, i'll pay you in beads. which costs nothing to the white folks who are bringing the beads into the transaction. but for indians, it would be like somebody, i'll pay you in bags of 100-dollar bills, i'll pay you in cash. in california, remote frontier area, is like money falling from heaven. they were introduced by the
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california hudsons bay company who conducted trade off ships in san francisco bay. and these beads become ubiquitous in california indian communities, especially in the delta region among plains and miwok-speaking communities before they ever did any business with john sutter or new helvitia. long before they lived alongside white people, they were reaching out and seeking opportunities to get paid in beads. red and white beads were the colors most often demanded by indian consumers. white functioned as currency, red seems likely to have been used at ceremonial adornment. the ability to earn bides through work at a place like new helvitia, especially of an on theic material like glass, would have been tremendous economic asset.
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unlike other indians that are going to part with the beads reluctantly, those beads are laden with value that reflects the effort that went into making them. here you have these jerks who show up and they're like, beads for everyone. you're like, fools, i'll take them. so they could start doing things like demanding, we'll only have red ones. because whites literally did not understand the value of the beads they were trading for. whites imagined that they were giving trinkets in exchange for valuable things like beaver pelts. whereas indians were like, we're big away something we don't need in exchange for money from heaven. access to cash in the form of beads would make anybody a rock star in their home community. it elevates the status of indian men as marriage partners to have the economic connections that would allow them to access
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beads. not just for the beads in hand but for the potential future beads their economic connections could provide. i have beads now but i engage in this work. i could have beads in the future as well. you're going to be a good provider, a good son-in-law. you're going to be a rock star. so glass beads symbolize wealth in hand, but also a man's connections to economic opportuni opportunity. linked to market forces way beyond california. now this is especially critical for indian communities from the 1830s forward because in 1833, a malaria epidemic swept through central california. you have this impression of california as being very dry because of the recent drought and i'm not going to lie, it can be very dry. but prior to the damming of the rivers in california and prior to the introduction of livestock, particularly cattle, into california, california actually kind of had more of a problem being too wet than too dry.
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not because it had a lot of precipitation but because the groundwater, the water table was so high that in a low-lying area like the central valley, the groundwater was so close to the surface that any amount of rain could turn the whole valley into a swamp. so malaria was endemic in california beginning in 1833, well into the 20th century. it wasn't until the 1920s that the central valley became a place where people could live without being endangered by malaria. so malaria sweeps through the central valley in 1833. and by some estimates, these are not necessarily the most reliable. by some estimates kills some 75% of the indian population of the central valley in 1833. so imagine then that you live in a society in which, now there just are 75%, maybe, fewer marriage partners. how much harder are you going to have to compete? for a limited pool of marriage partners?
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when white settlers began moving into the central valley really in large numbers in the 1840s, then indian men face kind of an extra burden in trying to find marriage partners because suddenly white settlers are very attractive marriage partners for indian women. for a couple of reasons. affluent men are always going to have the advantage in a society in which a marriage partner is chose anyone part based on his ability to provide. so these white settlers, who are the source of the beads, are way preferable to the indian guy who might just be able to earn the beads. so indian women find settler men to be very attractive marriage partners. i also have a theory, and this one's not necessarily borne out by anthropology. my theory that is california indian societies are generally patrilocal. when a company gets married they generally live with the husband's family. you're a woman, i get to get married to this guy and live
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with think mother-in-law until the end of time. but here are all these white guys who showed up in california and they don't have mothers. that's my theory. but i live with my mother-in-law. love you, laura. so marriage is important we know. both in the love scheme of things but also as an economic situation. you don't want to be saddled with a never do well. you want to have a man who's a good provider. you want a woman who's a good provider. women are doing most of the economic work in any given indian community. women can call the shots here. indian women can have their pick. whether it be of white settlers or indian men. affluent, powerful men have the advantage in this marriage market, and this is especially evident in the visibility of mixed relationships at places like new helvitia where immigrant men, settler men, took indian wives. in addition to the challenges
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that were posed by indian white intermarriage stealing away potential wives, the malaria epidemic of the early 1830s and unrelated the introduction of venereal and other diseases into the indian population through the mission system heightened the competition for men, among men, for marriage partners in the wake of this sort of devastating demographic collapse. add to that the traditional practice of polygyny, in which powerful wealthy indian men would take multiple wives. you can see people are going to be at each other's throats trying to get a wife. the need for indian men to distinguish themselves on the economic playing field is more urgent than ever. trade becomes an important survival strategy just in the literal sense of, is your community going to be survive? are more children going to be born into your community? is your community going to go on? census figures bear this out. 1846, informal census of the
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indian population in the central valley showed that indian communities most closely associated with the new helvitia colony, that source of beads and cloth and economic advantages, had in the words of the census taker quote an extraordinary abundance of women. suggesting that women chose to marry into communities that were well off or marry into communities that, through their associations with new helvitia, had better access to economic opportunity. the continuing survival of indian communities beyond the mission era was in no small part due to indians' skillful engagement with larger markets as workers. in a growing and changing profit system. possibly the best example is the indian village of walakamne on the sacramento river. a large amount of people had briefly entered into mission san jose. they close doors in 1836. they're there for a minute, like a minute.
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so they're briefly there. and the village remained i think because of this continually inhabited. some indians went into mission san jose, but mission san jose wasn't around long enough to bring everybody into its orbit. not all the indians were brought into the mission. there were enough indians left behind to still function as a community. unlike in many other cases where a community would break up, there would be 10 people left. you can't keep a community -- that's not even a tribal council. so people would break off and join their relatives in other communities. wallakamne stayed a community throughout the mission era. when mission san jose shut its doors in 1836 and people of wallakamne filtered back into the interior of california, they found their village still there. this is a big deal. their chief, a man by the name of anashe, didn't take on a spanish name.
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you remember from reading about the spanish missions in california, all these guys, indian people who were baptized at the missions, all were given spanish names. so the fact that the historic record shows anashe is still going by anashe into the 1840s shows wallakamne had a political system that functioned during the mission era. so either he didn't go into the mission or christianity left no impression on this man whatsoever. either way he's holding down the fort. this indicates a couple of things about wallakamne's history that i think are important. first of all they don't engage with the colonial economy, they don't engage with new helvitia out of desperation. this is still a place that still has a chief. they're not being forced into this economic situation. their village, political structure, are intact when new h helvitia is established in 1839.
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when they gain with sutter, when they go to work to trade with new helvitia, they do so as free agents. they position themselves not as employees, not as servants to sutter, not as lackeys of new helvitia, but as economic partners. for his part, john sutter acknowledged this. they reoriented their village economy toward producing pickled salmon of all things for export to hawaii mainly. i have a great image here of indian salmon fishing here. a little bit washed out. but you can see this is on the sacramento river in 1854. you can see indians here on the banks of the river, and they have stretched across the river sort of like a large net to catch salmon that would be spawning upstream. and not so much anymore because of the damming of the rivers and agriculture, but back in the day, california used to have an
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amazing abundance of salmon. sometimes like you hear people, records of people who visited the pacific northwest in the 19th century who talked about you could walk across the river on the backs of salmon. that's how the sacramento river in california would have been. you can imagine what these guys are netting in that net. using these native-manufactured nets and fishing weirs, we talked about split the finers from the bark, spin it. they manufacture these nets themselves. they take these huge catches of salmon. with a little bit of instruction from sutter who i'm going to be honest was no expert in pickling salmon, but mostly through their own trial and error which sutter lovingly recorded all their mishaps in attempting to pickle salmon, they mastered the techniques of preserving salmon in barrels for export. one visitor in 1841 observed the following. quote the sacramento and its branches yield enormous salmon of superior type that come in
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from the sea to spawn. the natives erect barricades across the small streams and kill the fish as they come up with stones or pointed spears. these salmon can be caught with hooks or by means of staunch nets stretched across the river. the fish after being salted is consumed to a large extent in the sandwich islands where it is exported in large quantities by the columbia river company, hudsons bay company. ships come out from new york expressly to load on salmon. anybody here been to hawaii? so there's like a famous hawaiian dish, like a noted hawaiian delicacy, lame lame salmon. salmon is not native to hawaii. how on earth did the hawaiians come up with salmon as one of their signature dishes? it's because of this trade in preserved salmon from california and the pacific northwest. evidently it's like a salmon salad that's mixed with ice. i never tried it when i was in hawaii, the one time.
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this becomes the village of wallakamne's principal economic activity. so much so that the entire village picks up and relocates ten miles further upriver to be closer to new helvitia and the supply of barrels and salt necessary for preserving their catch. the fishermen of wallakamne when they were done preserving the salmon in barrels -- it was a whole process. you had to drain off the water that came out of the salmon. you had to drain off the salmon fluid from the barrel. it was a whole process. so once that was done they were load their barrels onto sutter's boats. and then these boats which were manned by crews of indian sailors would ferry the goods to san francisco or san jose for export. this commerce was so important and wallakamne's position economically so strong that sutter established his embarcadero as he called it, basically a small port, at
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wallakamne. all of new helvitia's critical exports whether furs, hides, tallow, salmon, whatever it may be, wheat, came and went through the indian village of wallakamne. it persisted in a way other villages didn't necessarily persist. albeit in a somewhat different location. throughout the mission era well into the era that new helvitia thrived right on through the gold rush into the early years of the gold rush. as not a dependant but as an economic partner of new helvitia. speaking of the gold rush. now you guys, your main exposure to the gold rush up to this point has been its importance to the sectional crisis over slavery in california entering the union as a free state, the compromise of 1850. but the gold rush just in terms of california's own history is a
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major turning point. we go from this backwater colonial economy that depended on things like fur trapping to this incredibly populous, wealthystate in which cash is literally coming up out of the ground. so again, like money falling from heaven. so, a lot of historians have suggested that this is the end. this is the end of when indians are economically important to california. this is when they ultimately come exterminated. one of my colleagues is, has recently published a book called american genocide. because this a genocide of california indians that begins in the goldrush and persist through the 19th century. so, the goldrush is usually
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seen as a big turning point. like the beginning of the end for california indians. but, historians are beginning to realize that the goldrush, at least initially does not materially change indian economic participation in the california economy. indians jumped right into gold- mining by the tens of thousands in the first year of the goldrush. gold was discovered in january 1848. the gold discovery is announced in december 1848. the goldrush begins in the spring of 1849. tens of thousands of indian gold miners are in the gold- mining regions. what we call the mother load in california. in the sierra nevada foothills. handing out, panning out millions and millions of dollars of gold from the california minds. sutter at the colony, he found this to be a huge problem. the indians were soaking to get into the minds that he recalled in his book in english, the indians could not be kept
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longer at work. they were impatient run the minds. so, i had to leave more than two thirds of my harvest in the field. so, his beads were not going to do it anymore. this is not just cash for us, it is cash for everybody and we are going to go get it. they basically learned the value of gold. just as they learned the value of anything else that was a commodity being exchanged in california. live stock, firs, whatever it was that settlers wanted. indians were very quick to ascertain the economic opportunity in that commodity. they just as quickly positioned themselves to take advantage by fleeing places like the colony and leaving their customary jobs for the mines. add to this, a lesser-known story of the california gold
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rush, or we imagine the grizzled american miner with the long beard, the initial minor other than the indians were native hawaiians who, there was a trade between california and hawaii of salmon. they would abandon ships and head straight for the gold fields. and also chilean miners who would usually abandon ship as sailors. they would abandon ship at the port of san francisco and go to the gold fields. it was a highly international and not very american event. we always associate the
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goldrush with as soon as the united states takes over california we have this goldrush and there are all these americans there. one historian considering the significance of california indian labor has concluded the following. >> surprising to many might be the fact. for about a century, a few thousand indians managed spaniards, europeans and americans and launched and sustained an economic revolution. this made the industrial development possible. >> i would go a step further than this historian and suggest that it was many more thousands of indians than the few thousand he suggests. and some of the cases i have highlighted in this lecture, they certainly did not need the management of whites to get involved in these activities. only the suggestion of economic opportunity.
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this turns, in some ways, the standard narrative of california indians on its head. i show you the image of the mounted indian livestock trader on horseback. that sort of image of california in, indians as being docile or steamrolled by white settlers. i feel like this turns that narrative about california indians on its head. the indian population especially those touched by the mission were not passive victims of colonialism and passive recipients of economic transformations in california. i will not try to deny that mission is asian and conquest in warfare, the introduction of disease or and disruptive and sometimes outright devastating. entire villages perished. but, indian people made intelligent, informed and culturally sensible choices about their futures based on the new opportunities resented to them even under very dire
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circumstances within the limits placed on them by the circumstances. indians used these economic changes, sometimes initiated them, to sustain themselves and their communities and to preserve their independence during a time when it was increasingly harder to do every year. questions? thoughts or feelings? >> give it a second. >> it is interesting to hear you talk so much about their willingness and ability to participate in different economic ventures. we've been taught most of the time that they just got steamrolled into extinction pretty much. so, how is it -- i don't know that -- was it really just violence or land hunger and is on the part of settlers that took them out and they seemed to have such an economic mind
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and ability to adapt to situations that took them out of their homeland? >> in california, it is literally violent. it is literally when ranchers, farmers and gold miners are like, we don't want indians participating in this economy anymore, that we really see the tide turned permanently for california's indian population. the white gold miners do not appreciate the competition the indians present. there is this sort of interesting racial epithet that american gold miners used to describe indians. they called the indians in california diggers. like they just dig with sticks. they don't do real economic activity so let me go dig some gold out. so you can imagine this since
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of, for whites, that like some of these people are inferior and they are mining gold and moving from place to place the gathering and digging. and we are kind of doing the same thing and this is awkward and we don't like this competition, right? then of course, livestock wrestling does not stop. so as more and more farmers and ranchers become established in central california, that becomes a huge problem. unlike the spanish and mexicans who imagined indians to be a vital economic part of their society, americans in california are like no, these folks are not people who we see as being a permanent part of our future here. they are much more willing to resort to this wholesale murder to deter livestock left. elsewhere in north america, i think especially in places where the fur trade was an important part of the indian economy like in louisiana, throughout the former new france
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, when that trade goes away, then yes, the significance of indians to the overall survival of the region or of the overall economic prosperity of the region goes away and then especially when american moves in, it is like they are not part of our future and they are not economically necessary to us, but their land is. the land hunger becomes a real issue. good question. any others? she totally gets an a., great, go ahead. >> i was just wondering, you said that whenever they did deferred trade or when they would solve the train 29, they would get three dollars for it. how much do you think that would be now transferred in terror -- transferred into our time period. >> oh my gosh, i was trying to
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do this today when i talked about the mules and horses being sold in santa fe for $10. what is $10 in 1833 money in terms of 2017 many. i could not dig up any accurate him anything that looked remotely accurate. but i mean, suffice it to say that is a lot more money. now, when folks were talking about jedediah smith or maybe it was edward belcher who talked about the tran29s being sold to ships for three dollars a pop, that is fur that has been taken and traded for with indian trappers, collected by people like john sutter or mission san jose and then sold for three dollars to be shipped. what john sutter or mission san jose are collecting is three dollars per skin. what indians are collecting is not three dollars per skin. i'm not trying to deny that there weren't those elements to this, this is one area where it
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is like, the indians are making the best out of his situation and they are like snagging up all the economic opportunity they possibly can. but, at the end of the day, white settlers are profiting off this a lot more. or, the missions are profiting off this a lot more. i always imagine indians are the bottom of the economic food chain in this trade always. they never get the full value. but in some cases, in colonial california, with three dollars in cash many have been a significant, as significant indian traders as five pounds of beef? maybe not. maybe they were coming out ahead in terms of dollar value of things. other buyers are definitely making more terms, more many in terms of dollar value. >> there were were there any groups of indians trying to take it into their own hands or was it purely profit for white
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settlers. >> i did not have much time to get into this, but there is a whole journal that sutter keeps full of his frustrations about being ripped off by indian trappers. he said look, i have extended them credit and they are indebted to me. i am letting the bar my traps and my canoes, they are going out, trapping and in debt to me. they're supposed to be bringing these first me to pay off debts. but everywhere i go they are selling them to others. in one case, they even appear to be selling to a chief of the local indian village. he is being beaten at his own game by this indian chief. so, it is a constant problem for sutter. what that tells me is that indians said we could be getting paid better if we go down the road.
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you can imagine the good bartering position they would be in. sutter will give me five pounds but i will ring these first two you if you can give me six pounds. so that is something i think is often underappreciated about the native american history north america is that there is a popular stereotype that in indians are simple and living off of the land and only taking what they need. these people could drive a bargain. and drive a hard bargain. they could run somebody. this is not the only reason he was always on the edge of ruin, but certainly not being able to get the first, the fur s went a long way toward some of his economic misery. if i had all the time in the world to keep you hostage here,
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i could continue talking about this. i could tell you a little bit more. >> so, i was wondering when the fur s ran out, there depending on the fur s for beads and the traders for currency. what would happen when they ultimately ran out? >> for a group like the hudson bay company for example, that british trade company that sends the brigades down to california, it becomes a serious problem. they eventually stop sending brigades because they are not getting enough for their efforts. you have to pay these guys and send food and pay for weapons and goods to trade with the indians. if the indians cannot trap enough and bring enough in and it is no longer profitable. ultimately, the hudson bay company pulls back from the trade. but indians have tons of irons in the fire.
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there is no village that trapping is all they do. they trap, steel lied, livestock , fish, it actually ends up, in some ways, being more of a problem for the hudson bay company or john sutter. sutter himself was in a ton of debt. he has contracted with various suppliers of goods. i will pay you back. i promise i will only pay you back in beaver skin or bushels of wheat. so he is in a worse predicament in some ways because if the skins do not come in, he is in violation of the contract. where is the indians say, the beaver did not work out we can steal livestock. sometimes they steal the livestock from him and it is a constant, somebody is always working some kind of angle. that does not mean that things don't get tough, especially with
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more american settlers starting to arrive, especially after the gold rush. what that starts to do is threaten the food level subsistence. if you cannot go out and gather acorns without being assaulted, if you cannot fish the streams because minors are dumping so much gravel and sand that it destroys the salmon run, then you are in trouble, a level of trouble that for trapping cannot fix. in other ways it becomes tough but the commodity staff, the beaver, livestock any one of those things is not always completely the only source of economic survival. we have a contest here. >> throughout history there have been plenty of times to trade with indians. why did you focus on this region and time period? >> i have the worst answer for
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this question. to remember we talked about how historians always study who they are and where they from? this is where i am from. if i could have figured out a way to research and write about things that happened in the backyard of my childhood home 100 years ago, that is what i would've done. this is as close as i could get to studying where i come from. so, yeah, my advisor as i was bouncing dissertation topics off of him said, at the's history of the cherokee nation sounds great but stop and ask yourself, do you really want to spend your life in oklahoma doing this research. i thought and thought. he said would you want to go because you need to be willing to go to the place you want to do your research. is that i always want to go to california and so that is how i came upon this topic. it got closer and closer to where i am from. so that is a terrible answer, right? >> the, did the value of beaver
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fur from the west coast make any impact on the southeast region on deerskin value? >> by this point in time, but the time that california becomes wrapped up in the fur trade, like the 1820s and 1830s and 40s, the southwest deerskin trade is over. is not completely over. people still hunt and trade
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dear, but that huge international deerskin trade that powers entire colonies is virtually over. you would never imagine that was because there were so drastically over hundred. they are such a nuisance in the southeast today. they mess up your garden, hit your car. is that it? thank you very much. thank you for being here this evening and i hope you have a wonderful weekend. weeknights this month we are featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span 3. we focus on our weekly lectures in history series which takes you into college classrooms around the country. tuesday, a discussion on the american revolution and how george washington interacted with fellow soldiers, how he viewed himself and how he is remembered today. american history tv airs tuesday at 8 pm eastern and every weekend on c-span 3. watch book tv for national coverage of the book festival. our coverage includes author
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interviews. rick atkinson, author of the british are coming and thomas malone, founding director of the mit center for collective intelligence discusses his book , super minds. the national book festival, live saturday at 10 am eastern on book tv on c-span 2. in the wake of the recent shootings in el paso, texas and dayton, ohio, the house judiciary committee will return early from summer recess. they will markup new bills which include restricting firearms deemed by a court to be a risk to themselves and preventing individuals convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing a gun. live coverage begins wednesday, september 4 at 10 am eastern on
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c-span and -- >> next, american history tv looks at native american history from the colonial era through westward expansion. you'll hear a discussion about how tribes operated as separate nations in their interactions with each other and with european countries. held by the gilder lehrman institute of american history. this is an hour and 15 minutes. >> good morning. we have been talking about with and which we can incorporate and integrate native american experiences into american history. i have suggested little cameo appearances. pocahontas or


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