Paintings by Harry Fonseca Paintings by Harry Fonseca


Harry Fonseca, The Discovery of Gold in California, 5.29.97, #18

Harry Fonseca, The Discovery of Gold in California, 5.29.97, #18
Photograph by Catherine Buchanan

The Gold Rush, an event that profoundly shaped California, brought disastrous consequences to California Indians, especially Fonseca's Nisenan Maidu ancestors living in the heart of gold country. Between 1846 and 1870 alone, the number of California Indians declined from 150,000 to 30,000, an 80 percent reduction in population. They died from disease, starvation, forced labor, and state-sanctioned murder. Historian James Rawls refers to this event as "California's Holocaust."

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