Cullamah, California, 1848
Dozens, maybe hundreds, live in Cullamah, in the foothills of the mountains.
Their life is as good as life gets: The weather is warm most of the year. A river runs next to the village providing limitless fresh clean water, for bathing, fishing, and drinking. Deer, rabbit, and other animals supply meat and material for clothing and shoes for winter. Village people are experts in how to live well: they prepare hides and manufacture them into usable goods, and they know how to make leather soft and waterproof. They do all this and so much more without depending on a lot of imported goods or YouTube videos.
Of course, they do need to import some things: Salt, certain spices, obsidian (glassy material from volcanoes that makes arrowheads). They also trade their excellent local Black Oak acorns, homemade elk jerky, and their custom-made arrowheads for ready-made goods like snowshoes, made by mountain people. Sometimes, Cullamah, like other villages, holds big trading events, a little like annual fairs in England, where people come from far and wide to buy and sell. Other times, trading parties of up to 200 men (to carry all the stuff they have to sell) leave Cullamah, and head north, south, east, or west to meet with trading partners, and bring home everything from essential salt to fun jewelry.
Cullamah people, like others of the region, make ornate woven baskets, ranging from pinhead-size to ten feet across. These baskets are decorative, but they aren't knickknacks for tourists. They come in every possible shape and size for every possible purpose, from food storage to carrying water, even cooking and drinking and fishing. They are easily made and mended from sustainable materials that are all around the village, like pine needles and sap, and grasses, materials that don't cost anything, or harm the water or soil when they eventually wear out and are thrown away.
The people of Cullamah and other villages along the river are called Nisenan. They speak a language that makes them different from other people living in the area, like the Miwok and the Maidu, although they all have a lot in common in how they live. Cullamah and other Nisenan villages are all independent of each other, so even among the Nisenan, there are local cultural differences.
Life isn’t boring for the people of the foothills. Days are filled not only with work to make a living, but with living: Music, sports and games (played against other villages, other people like the Miwoks, and usually for wagers), singing and dancing and stories, festivals to celebrate the first salmon of the season, say, or the first acorns (more important than you might think). There are coming of age ceremonies. Men and women wear tattoos. Even cooking is fun when flatbreads can be baked, meat and fish grilled, and all quickly, on cooking rocks. The Nisenan get closer to a perfect California lifestyle than anyone does later in the name of “California”.
Do the Nisenan and other foothill peoples quarrel and fight in this paradise? Of course they do. People are people. Sometimes families fight. Sometimes villages. Sometimes the Nisenan fight other peoples in the foothills. All sorts of reasons: Trespassing, a suspicious death, land disputes. And there’s crime: Murder, stealing, adultery, rape, all severely punished, including by death. All the familiar and awful human stuff.
Sometimes, someone wades into the river, and picks up one of the pieces of orange-yellow metal you find there, and holds it up to see it glint in the sun. Shame it's so soft and useless. And then you toss it back into the water, where it lands with a tiny splash.
The rest of the world would be amazed.
Behind the Scenes: A personal note.
Before we continue, I freely acknowledge that my professional background in the history of indigenous peoples is slim. I only began to take an interest in recent years. My knowledge of the history of the Western U.S. is similarly spotty, despite fourteen years living in California, and the influence of Professors Joe Pitti, my adviser at Sacramento State University, and his friend Carlos Cortes, for whom (unbelievable though it seems now) I was once a graduate teaching assistant in Chicano History at UC Riverside. “I know nothing about Chicano History,” I cheerfully confessed to Carlos (who was, by the way, a multicultural education adviser for Dora the Explorer). “Nothing against Chicano history. I’m just not interested in the West.” Fortunately, he laughed. Well, I remember him laughing. Maybe it was hysterical laughter at being stuck with an idiot for a semester. Hey, I needed a paycheck, and he needed a TA.
I mean, what fool goes to grad school on the outskirts of Los Angeles for a PhD in colonial American and British history? This Brit.
My usual reminder: Please know that although I am a historian, this is not history: It’s a blend of teaching, journalism, memoir, and, yes, history, sticking to known facts to the best of my ability in the time I have, but don’t you dare quote Non-Boring History in an essay. Also, I must add that, like everyone who does history, and maybe especially their own, indigenous people don’t always agree on what happened. If you are an official tribal council representative, or a professional historian, and have read this entire post, then please get in touch if you think I’ve made major errors.
Ooh, how exciting! A granary! (said no one ever) (sure about that?)
Let’s talk briefly but in detail on one subject about which I am quite sure you don’t think at all (unless you’re a grain farmer, in which case, welcome!) Let’s talk about granaries. Yes, places to store grain. No, don’t give up on me here! I promise Non-Boring History, so I have to deliver!
It is 1848 in Cullamah. The Nisenan, like other indigenous peoples of the foothills and mountains, have thousands of years of experience in preparing for winter. They dry berries and make them into fruit leathers or teas. Each family has a granary, where they can store up to 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms) of acorns, a two or three year supply, which they maintain in case of a bad harvest.
Acorns though? Acorns? Think wheat. Think beans. Properly processed to remove the bitter tannins, acorns are healthy comfort food that ensures nobody starves in winter. Acorns can be ground up into flour for breads, and make a nutritious porridge.
Unlike, say, Brits, who never figured it out, and starved while surrounded by oak trees, Nisenan and other California Indians have known how to make acorns edible for thousands of years. The granary baskets in which they keep acorns are brilliantly designed, and I do mean that, without the vaguest whiff of condescension, because the question I always ask myself is, Laing, could you have thought of this? And the answer is always, um, no.
Nisenan granary baskets are designed to hold a heavy mass of acorns, up to 1500 lbs, remember? A Nisenan granary is designed to keep the acorns from touching the ground. A family draws acorns from a plugged hole in the bottom of the granary, so the oldest grains are used first. Family members (women, I’m guessing) line the granary baskets with natural materials like wormwood leaves that help hide the scent of yummy acorns from hungry animals. In case the squirrels figure it out (and you know some will) village boys have a fun job: They are in charge of keeping squirrels away from granaries, including by shooting them for dinner, which has to be a dream chore for some lads, and also prepares them for adulthoods spent hunting food.
I can’t get into this kind of detail about every aspect of Nisenan life, because what anthropologists and Nisenan elders know about traditional Nisenan culture fills books. Here’s what I’m trying to say to you: Isn’t adding even a little detail a lot more interesting, a lot more meaningful, than “Indians ate acorns”?
Photo: https://www.yosemite.ca.us/library/kroeber/miwok.html (Public Domain)
A Special Note to my Readers
If you were taught history using crappy state-approved textbooks, and curriculum that tries to cover “everything” and ends up saying almost nothing interesting about anything, and then you got tested on the names and dates and forgot it all anyway ... Well, most Americans are with you on this.
My little chat about granaries is just one hint about just one kind of education you have been missing. And there are no tests at Non-Boring History.
The Rock, Cullamah, 1848
And here is the rock, the heart of the village of Cullamah. Sometimes used for ritual, it’s also a handy place for work, to grind acorns, or clean fish. Or simply sit and chat. It’s a holy place, and a community center. Perhaps, like the Nisenan Medicine Rock, 45 miles away in what is now Nevada City, it was a place of healing, where doctors would examine patients. Let’s remind ourselves here that doctors of all cultures were about equally effective or ineffective before antibiotics, and that Nisenan doctors probably weren’t killing their patients by removing lots of blood from them, as, say, George Washington’s doctor did, to fatal effect, in 1799.
Like themselves, the people of Cullamah believe, the rock has always been here.
Display at James Marshall Gold Discovery Park, Coloma CA. Photo: © Annette Laing, 2019.
Hubo (recreation) based on a dwelling the Nisenan used after the Gold Rush began. James Marshall Gold Discovery Park. Photo: © Annette Laing, 2019.
This structure is called a hubo. It’s a modern reproduction, built in Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. What isn’t explained, at least as I recall, is that hubos became important after the Gold Rush began. They are dwellings that could be quickly packed up, when people needed to flee. They are, effectively, tents: Made with cedar slabs, the gaps stuffed with moss or grasses to keep out the rain and wind. This filling of cracks isn’t shown in the hubos at the park, which, unfortunately, gives us the impression that the hubo is a very threadbare form of shelter, and I fear the word that will leap to visitors’ minds is primitive. It's a bit like showing a half-finished house, and saying that this is where people live. Only it's worse than that, because it suggests that people who actually weren't nomadic lived in tents, and leaky tents at that.
The hole in the top of the hubo serves as a chimney, and it is very effective in funneling out smoke, something I can testify to after sitting in a tipi, in, of all places, Jersey in the Channel Islands (and yes, it was authentic, imported from the Dakotas). Nisenan people burn the tops of the planks around the chimney in a hubo, for fire safety.
Hubos were always used for travel before, like tents.
During the Gold Rush, the Nisenan stay in hubos, because they must always be ready to move at a moment’s notice.
Before the Gold Rush, the Nisenan were used to more permanent homes. The hu is an intricate and large round wood structure half-buried in the ground, to keep everyone warm in winter, and cool in summer. People build beds from wood with mattresses of grass and pine needles, topped with animal skins, all sustainable local materials (like sheep, rocks, and -sort of- peat once served in my native Scotland). For summer sleeping comfort, hammocks hang from the rafters. A pole strung with feathers and strips of hide outside tells you who lives in a hu, acting like an address, or like the nameplates that still appear on houses in Scotland and that I still occasionally see in Georgia. Conveniently for strangers, the taller the pole in Cullamah or any Nisenan village, the more important the head of household.
The rock is still here.
James Marshall Gold Discovery Park, Coloma CA. Photo: © Annette Laing, 2019.
Everything, everyone else in Cullamah? Gone.
But, as I will try to explain, not quite. Nisenan are still living in the Gold Country, as it’s now called, the foothills of the Sierras. For a very long time, the rest of us just don’t see these folks, or chose not to. And the Nisenan, since 1964 (yes, 1964), have been displaced. The federal government ended their tribal status, and confiscated what little land they owned. They still live in the area, as modern people who drive cars and live in houses, who still form a community and practice a shared culture. Why is that so hard for others to understand? I'm Scottish. I enjoy haggis, understand and occasionally speak the Scots language, and spend time in Scotland as often as I can. No American tells me I'm not Scottish because I drive a car, live in a modern house, and don’t live exclusively on haggis and oatmeal, or speak Gaelic.
To repeat: In 2021, no land belongs to the Nisenan as a community. They cannot prevent their homeland from being misused in ways that not only don’t benefit the Nisenan, but often cause harm to us all.
Can some Nisenan reclaim at least some of their land, and use it to help sustain all of us? Hold that thought. Because that’s exactly what they have in mind.
GOLD. Now I Have Your Attention . . .
In this place today, there is a quaint town called Coloma (just like Cullamah, but nothing like Cullamah). Only two hundred people live here year round, and most of the town lies within the boundaries of James Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park.
GOLD! At once, we are distracted. GOLD DISCOVERY! We change gears. Oooh!! The state historic park folks know we will: This site is called the James Marshall Gold Discovery Park, not The Nisenan of Cullamah Park.
On the usual appalling shoestring budget (I can say that, they couldn’t possibly comment), the historic park staff do their best to represent the Nisenan, their village, and other native peoples of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Northern California.
But when your museum is named for the man who inadvertently started the Gold Rush, there’s only so much you can do about the narrative. The museum panel plaintively urges us to “spend a moment in time with the Sierra foothill Indians”, before the Main Event. The Nisenan, the Maidu, and the Me-wuk (Miwok) who lived in this area are reduced to the supporting act that go on first. We applaud politely, and sure, we give them a moment. But they aren’t who we came to see.
Display at James Marshall Gold Discovery Park, Coloma CA. Photo: © Annette Laing, 2019.
So, of course, we now move on, to do what we really came to do: See the faithful reproduction of Sutter’s Mill, where foreman James Marshall saw a glint in the water of the American River, and fished out a dime-sized gold nugget. And that's just the start.
What will we do after our quick tour of the visitor center museum? Maybe we will pan for gold in troughs seeded with gold dust at a ranger-led event, or in the American River itself. We will buy a couple of souvenirs, and then head for the Gold Rush-era recreated buildings, where we will wander until we get too hot, or too bored. We grab a soda or a coffee from the cafe across the street.
And then we go home, where we will, of course, tell everyone how interesting the Gold Rush is. And after a while, when we forget the heat, the dust, the slight boredom, we will, indeed, be glad we went.
The Gold Rush IS extremely interesting, much more so when you can read about it in the air-conditioned comfort of your favorite chair, and THEN go to Coloma and other sites. I am going to write about the Gold Rush a fair bit in Non-Boring History. I am working on a novel on that very subject. You may recall my posts about Margaret and Ledyard Frink, right? Lots more where that came from.
But not now. Today, I am going to call upon us to think about the same places, the same times, the same events, sometimes even the same people, in different ways, and, I hope, this will entice you to find out more. Because it’s so terribly important, that’s why: Learning to think in more than one way, from more than one perspective, is something I am worried isn’t done nearly enough in 2021, where we’re all picking teams. And we are never too old to learn, or relearn, the habit. A few years ago, I was in a museum in London, admiring a painting with a wonderful, brilliant, but slightly terrifying retired historian. “I always end up looking at paintings as a historian,” I said to her, “wondering when the picture is set, and where, that sort of thing.”
“Can’t you look at something in more than one way?” she said sharply.
The Boyhood of Richard B. Johnson: California, 1940s and 1950s
When Peter and Margaret Johnson went grocery shopping in Nevada City one day in the 1940s, the city's Police Chief snuck up behind them, and, without warning, or excuse, smashed Mr. Johnson across the head with a billy club. Stunned and bleeding, Mr. Johnson helped his wife gather up their scattered groceries from the sidewalk. Then they went home. They didn’t know what else to do. Who do you call when you are Indian, and the white police chief just assaulted you downtown, in plain sight?
Richard is two years old when the government come for him in 1951, as they came for so, so many children during those decades after WWII. They take him away from his grandparents, Peter and Margaret, along with his mother, Mabel (17) , and his aunts Harriet (13) and Jean (15). All of them are placed in foster care. Jean is put with a family in Grass Valley. Richard, Harriet, and Mabel (who gave birth to Richard’s brother Robert around this time), are placed with a family in nearby Glenbrook.
Soon, the boys, aged two and three, are sent to live with Nana Orzalli, an Italian-American foster mother, in Grass Valley. They will stay with her until they are grown.
Peter and Margaret, Richard’s grandparents, remain on the Nevada City Rancheria, the name given in California to a small Indian reservation. Although nobody knows it, Richard Johnson is the last Nisenan baby born on the rancheria. Fortunately, Nana Orzalli, Richard and Bob’s foster mother, believes the two little Nisenan boys in her care should keep family ties. She takes the boys to visit their Uncle Frank, who lives nearby, and they spend summers with Peter and Margaret, where Richard recalls being taken to pay his respects to Chief Louis Kelly. At the time, he was too young to know why this old man was a big deal.
Now, as tribal chairman of the Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan, Richard Johnson recalls those boyhood visits to Chief Kelly in his book, History of US (2020), on which this segment is based, and which I highly recommend to you.
I can see now . . . how important keeping in touch is. It’s really what a tribe is all about: relationships. It’s a leader’s job to know his people, to know what’s going on in their lives and to try to be an active part of those lives . . . Many of the older tribal members recall taking on a helping role to assist Chief Kelly, be it shopping, providing transportation to medical appointments, or making sure that he was able to attend burials, cries, or funerals, especially in Mr. Kelly’s later years.
Johnson also quotes Carmel Burrows, the wife of Chief Kelly’s successor, on her memories of Chief Kelly:
He was so worried he would miss a funeral. He had to pay his respects to the dead just like we all do. I would take him out even though he was in a wheelchair. I would drape his buckskin over his legs to keep him warm. He would cry and sing the Nisenan mourning songs for those who had died. He was mourning the loss of those who had died and those who went before.
The federal government declare that the Nisenan are no longer a recognized tribe. The government closes the Nevada City Rancheria in 1964, and sells the land that the Nisenan have believed was theirs forever. The land was small, but it had been theirs, and now it is not. The people now have no land of their own. They remain in the area. Peter and Margaret Johnson’s home is demolished by the new owner.
The Nisenan are few, but they are here, right now, in 2021. The Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan are not descendants of the people of Cullamah. They are not the only Nisenan. But the Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan are now carrying the torch for Nisenan history and culture: Story exchanges, basketry, acorn gathering and processing, gathering, fishing, hunting, celebrations, events of all kinds, and through it all, they have held together, with the last three elders who were born on the Rancheria advising and teaching. In 1979, four hundred people came from all over for a reunion. When, ten years later, it was clear that many of the elders who had attended the 1979 reunion were lost, the Nisenan began to write down their history. I wonder if they had any idea in 1989 how relevant they, and other indigenous people, were about to become, as people who knew how to live on the Earth, with plenty and in happiness, without destroying it?
1849: The Miners and the “Diggers”
At home, among family, friends, neighbors, wherever home happened to be, in New York, Iowa, Indiana, London, or wherever, most are probably good and decent people. Despite their fear of Indian attack as they set out on the westward trail, a fear stirred up by newspapers eager to sell copies, they soon realize in 1849 that most Indians aren’t interested in attacking the wagon trains. Some migrants on their way West in the early Gold Rush come to value and enjoy their encounters with native people on the Plains, trading mirrors and kettles for moccasins and horses, chatting, even socializing and eating meals together, becoming familiar with the similarities and differences among the many peoples of the Plains.
But once people on the overland trail cross into the brutal deserts of the Far West, where native people’s ability to survive and thrive really should impress them, attitudes change. All Indians in this scary crucible and the mountains beyond are lumped together in migrants’ imaginations as “Diggers”, a nickname that is supposedly based on their digging for roots as food, but which also rhymes with a racial slur. Some migrants, even when they see Indians using clever fish traps in the Carson River, say, and even when they buy fish from them, refuse to see what they are seeing. These people are “diggers”. Period. Full stop.
When they arrive in California, they see the Nisenan and other foothill people, but they are not relevant to the migrants, who are now miners, except when they came between them and gold. They are “diggers”, they are a nuisance, not really human, and their lives have no value.
John Sutter’s Wood Shortage, 1847
German-Swiss Johann Sutter (known now by the English name John Sutter) runs out of usable local wood to expand his infant trading empire/colony in what is today Sacramento. He and his employee, carpenter James Marshall, find the perfect spot for a sawmill, up in the foothills. Here, trees from the mountains can be processed by employees, then sent down what they now call the American River to Sutter’s “Fort”. They explain this to the people of Cullamah, and a document is signed, although it’s doubtful much communication took place, since they did not speak each other’s languages. Soon, Marshall returns with a group of men, some of them Nisenan, some Mormon ex-soldiers, some perhaps even Hawaiian, and they begin building the mill on the river. The people of Cullamah watch. It seems harmless.
And then, in January, 1848, James Marshall spots something glittering in the river, right in the tailrace, right beneath the mill.
From that moment on, although nobody yet know it, the very survival of Cullamah, its people, all the Nisenan, and indeed all the indigenous people of the foothills, is in danger.
The World Rushes In, 1848-9
Soon after Marshall’s find, would-be rich people, coming from all over California and Oregon, begin arriving. Most of them camp in and around Cullamah. Or what had been Cullamah. The Nisenan take the enormous brunt of the early Gold Rush in 1848, because they live in villages along the American River.
Immediately, miners shoot or drive off wild animals, while their domesticated horses and cattle trample the plants Nisenan need. Some Nisenan, most in an essential act of self-preservation, some even to acquire unprecedented levels of wealth and power, adapt fast. They became gold miners. They use wide, flat baskets to pan for gold, which other miners mimic with iron pans. They use gold to buy flour to replace acorn meal, to buy beef and pork instead of hunting deer or fishing, to buy western clothes instead of making their own. Other Nisenan, who live on the plains as the employees, serfs, or slaves of cattle ranchers, including John Sutter, are brought to the mines. Sutter alone brings a hundred workers to mine gold for him.
Before 1848 is halfway done, massive violence against indigenous people begins. People with no connection to California arrive with gold in their eyes. Among these first arrivals are white men from Oregon, where, just three months before Marshall’s discovery, fed-up Cayuse Indians attacked and killed fourteen people at a missionary settlement led by Marcus and Narcissa Whitman. The Oregon men see no difference between the Cayuse and other Indians. Killing Indians is, to them, appropriate revenge for what they see as a betrayal of Christian missionaries who had helped them. It’s so much more complicated than that, of course. But that’s not something the Oregon men are interested in considering. When they get to California, they see Nisenan, Maidu, Miwok as inhuman animals that come between them and gold, and must be destroyed. They begin systematically killing Indians. They establish a culture of miners killing Indians.
By the end of 1849, 80, 000 goldseekers have arrived from around the world. Not all of them are murderous (I am thinking, as just one example, of Bernard Reid, an Irish-American who rescued an old man in the Sierras from his would-be persecutors, and who went on to be one of the first college professors in California). But enough of them embrace the miners’ culture of violence that, by 1849, there is an organized effort to remove Indians from the mines by any means necessary. It is the beginning of genocide.
The Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Light a Candle
I don't want to leave the story in the past. The Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan not only want to reclaim their land. They also want to help us reckon with the past. They are taking the lead in bringing people together. By inviting Non-indigenous artists to work with them to tell their story, by inviting us to consider sustainability and living within our environmental means, they are providing leadership into the 21st century. I encourage you to check out the links, and learn more.
DO Learn More (because there’s exciting news here)
Richard B. Johnson, History of US : Nisenan Tribe of the Nevada City Rancheria (2020) This is a fascinating and engagingly-written handbook to Nisenan culture and history drawn from the knowledge of tribal elders and western anthropologists, one that you can dip into as the mood strikes. It’s authored by the chair of the tribal council of the Nisenan Tribe of the Nevada City Rancheria. It is also Mr. Johnson’s own memoir, and an urgent call to action for us all. I warmly recommend the book to you. The link above is to an official site, and please, do give the money to the Nisenan, rather than the dreaded A*****n.
Richard B. Johnson is tribal council chair of the Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan. Watch/listen to this interview with him, which I think you’ll find fascinating. WHEN YOU CLICK: You will see “Video unavailable.” Right beneath it? “Watch this video on YouTube”. Just click on that.
Learn about Shelly Covert, Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan spokesperson, and the current state of the campaign to recover tribal land (note: this does not include Cullamah), as of May, 2021. Connecting with the tribe via the CHIRP site (below) and/or the Rancheria site will keep you informed, and provide opportunities to assist, including not only donations and purchases, but also volunteering and writing letters.
Learn about the documentary Belonging. There are many films with this name, so don’t stream or buy the wrong one! You can stream it on Vimeo, but you do have to pay. Watch a trailer (free) here.
CALIFORNIA HERITAGE: INDIGENOUS RESEARCH PROJECT (CHIRP), a 501c3 charitable organization originally founded to research, document and preserve the history and culture of the Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Tribe. The site is run by Shelly Covert, a member of the Tribal Council, and Executive Director of CHIRP, as well as Official Spokesperson for the tribe. Her site, and the Rancheria’s site, have lots of suggestions for how you can donate, write letters, buy merch, and otherwise help the Nisenan of the Nevada City Rancheria regain their land.
The site for the Nisenan of the Nevada City Rancheria also links to many sites of interest. They’re on Facebook and Instagram.
Every Nisenan village was independent. There are also many tribal organizations belonging to Me-wuk (Miwok) people in the area. Some Nisenan are also affiliated with at least one Miwok organization. It’s complicated. To repeat, if anything in this post needs to be fixed, I do ask official tribal council representatives or academic historians to let me know.
On the Genocide of the California Indians
Benjamin Madley, An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe. This award-winning and engaging book by an academic historian, a professor of history and American Indian Studies at UCLA, is a brilliant work of scholarship, showing how the indigenous population of California collapsed from an estimated 150,000 to 30,000, between 1846 and 1873. Be clear: This was death by deliberate murder of native peoples.
This is awesome. Visit an art exhibition developed from a program in which non-Indigenous artists worked with the Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan to help explain their history and culture through art. It is now open (until September, 2021) in Nevada City, California.
The Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. Do visit the museum, make a point of seeing the rock and the recreated hubos, as well as the extensive Gold Rush buildings and exhibits. Ask in advance about programming. If they have no programs planned on Cullamah, or the foothill Indians, do let them know (nicely) that you would be interested in such offerings.
Also . . .
On The Deliberate Break-Up of California Indian Families
The Baby Scoop era, in which indigenous children were removed from their families (c. 1945-1973), took place in the US, Canada, and Australia, and affected up to one third of Indian children in the United States
On the removal from their families fostering, and adoption of Indian children specifically in Canada, the “Sixties Scoop”, which lasted from the 1950s to the mid-1980s, see this BBC video from 2021. Find out more about it here.
Dr. Annette Laing, the Non-Boring Historian, is a former professor of history and member of the Africana Studies program at Georgia Southern University. With a background in early American and modern British history, she writes on a variety of subjects at Non-Boring History for busy adults with zero time who aren’t even sure they like history, but need something more out of life than doomscrolling.