Act for the Government and Protection of Indians

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Act for the Government and Protection of Indians
Seal of California.svg
California State Legislature
Full nameAct for the Government and Protection of Indians
Assembly votedApril 19, 1850
Signed into lawApril 22, 1850
Sponsor(s)Chamberlin, Bidwell
Code California Statutes, 1850
SectionChapter 133
Website [1] [2]

The Act for the Government and Protection of Indians (Chapter 133, Cal. Stats., April 22, 1850) was enacted by the first session of the California State Legislature. [1]

The act "facilitated removing California Indians from their traditional lands, separating at least a generation of children and adults from their families, languages, and cultures (1850 to 1865). This California law provided for "apprenticing" or indenturing Indian children and adults to Whites, and also punished "vagrant" Indians by "hiring" them out to the highest bidder at a public auction if the Indian could not provide sufficient bond or bail." [2] It was amended in 1860. [2] Although the California legislature repealed parts of the statute after the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished involuntary servitude, [1] it was not repealed in its entirety until 1937. [2]

The Act for the Government and Protection of Indians is in line with other laws passed in the state of California during this time, such as the Greaser Act in 1855 and the Foreign Miners' Tax Act of 1850 (repealed in 1851 and reinstated in 1852). [3] [4]

One point to note is the act created legal slavery of native Americans in California even though California was admitted to the union as a free state in 1850. Free as in no black slavery allowed. However, this did not stop governor Peter Hardeman Burnett from signing the law and instituting it fully knowing it would state-sanction genocide. He explained in his Governor's speech from January 6th, 1851 "That a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the races until the Indian race becomes extinct must be expected,”. [5] Looking at Peter Hardeman Burnetts' first Governor's speech from January 6th, 1851 there is a section that explains a god-given right where his hatred and genocidal points of view for native Americans is quite clear. [6]



  • Lindsay, Brenden C (2012). "Murder State: California's Native American Genocide, 1846-1873." University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London. pp. 147, 152-156


  1. ^ a b Dutschke, Dwight (2014). "A History of American Indians in California" (PDF). California Office of Historic Preservation, Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Johnston-Dodds, Kimberly. "Early California Laws and Policies Related to California Indians" (PDF). 50 California Research Bureau, California State Library. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-10-12. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  3. ^ "Foreign Miners Tax documents, 1850-1867". Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  4. ^ "The Statutes of California passed at the Sixth Session of the Legislature" (PDF). 1855. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  5. ^ Blakemore, Erin. "California's Little-Known Genocide". HISTORY. Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  6. ^ "Governors of California - Peter Burnett. Executive Orders". Retrieved 2019-10-03.

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