Post your initial summary in consideration of the following: Richard White is a preeminent historian of the conquest of the American West.
In Part Three (chapters 8–10), White shifts his geographic focus to the San Joaquin Valley and, more specifically, the Tulare basin and neighboring foothills. In the mid-1800s, it was a context where the northern, Anglo-driven Gold Rush, the south-coastal Californio society, and indigenous peoples such as the Yokuts all collided.
Here are a few highlighted quotes:
“The Argonauts, as the forty-niners styled themselves, ransacked the state for gold; but most of them never intended to stay, nor did they. But they ushered in important changes. Miners were like a tsunami: their passage rearranged the world.” (61)
“In all the narratives, the Yokuts predictably morphed from specific Indians to racialized stereotypes, who in flaying Wood alive took ‘a revenge in consonance with the Indian spirit.’ … The story was of a type. It located American conquest in American martyrdom, innocence, bravery, and self-defense.” (72)
“Cattlemen made poor neighbors. They intruded on Yokut lands, destroyed Yokut food sources, and drove off game. The Yokuts techniques of maintaining habitat for game and wild foods—particularly burning—threatened the invading cattle. When the Yokuts set fires, Americans killed Yokuts. When starving Indians killed American animals, whites retaliated by killing Indians and their rancherias. Yokut became synonymous with thief, and settlers blamed them for all vanished livestock.” (82)
“There are survivors even after a genocide, and the Tachis who survived the catastrophes of the 1850s maintained a foothold in their homeland. … Some even became vaqueros caring for the cattle that had helped destroy them, living at white sufferance on the lands the Americans had taken from them.” (88)
Read Part Three of the book.
Post your initial summary in consideration of the following: Richard White is a preeminent historian of the conquest of the American West. A hallmark of his work is the humanizing agency he recognizes among Indian peoples. Despite suffering the consequences of genocidal campaigns, the Indians in White’s histories are not passive victims, nor are they a “vanishing race,” noble or ignoble, as so many legendary accounts of American frontier expansion would have it. But in the Tulare basin, as elsewhere in California and the West, there is deep ambivalence between legend and fact. Rather than a direct question, take this as a set of ideas around which to build your summary. One or two thoughtful paragraphs would be sufficient for your initial response.
Engage your classmates in a reflective conversation. As you read and re-read more of the book, and also your classmates’ comments, add to your original ideas.