Prof. Benjamin Madley, UCLA

Between 1846 and 1873, California’s Indian population plunged from approximately 150,000 to 30,000. This is the subject of Madley’s new book, “An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873,” for which he received the 2016 Heyday Books History Award from Heyday Books Publishing House.

Madley’s presentation explored the rise of a state-sanctioned killing machine and the broad social, judicial, and political support for genocide. He described precursors to the genocide and explained how the Gold Rush stirred vigilante violence, the involvement of state and federal officials, the taxpayer dollars that supported the violence, indigenous resistance, who did the killing, and why the killings ended. Besides evaluating government officials’ culpability, Madley considered why the slaughter constituted genocide and how other possible genocides within and beyond the Americas might be investigated. Check back on this site for a video of his lecture.