Artwork courtesy of the Tom Feelings Collection, LLC

November 1, 2022

Episode 3:
Indigenous Injustice

California joined the Union as a so-called free state in 1850. So how did white settlers get away with enslaving Native children until they were young adults?

We explore a little-known California state law called the Act for the Government and Protection of Indians that unleashed genocidal violence against Indigenous children. And we connect the dots between that terrible past and a landmark upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case.

Episode Credits:

Produced by the ACLU of Northern California

Host and writer Tammerlin Drummond

Senior Producer and Editor Joanne Jennings

Mix and Original Score Renzo Gorrio

Executive Producer Candice Francis

We’d like to thank our wonderful guides Stacey L Smith, William Bauer and Tedde Simon.

Our associate producers are Lisa P. White and Carmen King.

A special thanks also to our voice actors Pauline Schindler, William Freeman, and Avi Frey.

Elize Manoukian provided fact-checking and production assistance.

Field recording was done by Julie Conquest, Ron George and Eric Gleske.

We’d also like to thank the following members of our Gold Chains team: Brady Hirsch, Gigi Harney and Eliza Wee. Thank you also to Abdi Soltani, executive director of the ACLU of Northern California.

A special thanks to World Affairs, Oregon State University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for providing us with recording studios.

Archival sound was provided courtesy of Periscope Films and Prelinger Archives.

Episode Guests:

William Bauer is a professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a citizen of the Round Valley Reservation. He is the author of California Through Native Eyes: Reclaiming History and We Were All Like Migrant Workers Here: Work, Community and Memory on California’s Round Valley Reservation.

Stacey Smith is an associate history professor at Oregon State University. She is the author of Freedom's Frontier: California and the Struggle over Unfree Labor, Emancipation and Reconstruction.

Tedde Simon is the Indigenous justice advocate at the ACLU of Northern California and a citizen of the Navajo Nation.

Additional Resources:

Gold Chains: The Hidden History of Slavery in California, ACLU of Northern California

Among the Diggers of 30 Years Ago, Helen M. Carpenter

Early California Laws and Polices Related to California Indians Kimberly Johnston-Dodds, California State Library

Federal Indian Boarding School Investigative Report U.S. Department of Indian Affairs

This Land, host Rebecca Nagle

At Liberty, host Kendall Ciesemier

Kate Camden family portrait

Photo of Kate Camden, a Native girl who at age 10 was forced into servitude for a white family living in Shasta County. Photo is one of few records that exist showing Native children entrapped by California's apprentice and guardianship laws // Credit: Camden Family Portrait, circa 1857-1859 courtesy of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, WHIS 9066

The mission of Gold Chains is to uncover the hidden history of slavery in California by lifting up the voices of courageous African American and Native American individuals who challenged their brutal treatment and demanded their civil rights, inspiring us with their ingenuity, resilience, and tenacity. We aim to expose the role of the courts, laws, and the tacit acceptance of white supremacy in sanctioning race-based violence and discrimination that continues into the present day. Through an unflinching examination of our collective past, we invite California to become truly aware and authentically enlightened.