Historian Invited to Spend Summer 2018 at Bancroft, Huntington Libraries

UC Riverside's Andrew Shaler studies violence against indigenous communities during California's Gold Rush period

UCR doctoral candidate Andrew Shaler

UCR doctoral candidate Andrew Shaler

History doctoral candidate Andrew Shaler has received invitations to spend summer 2018 studying the archives of two of California’s pre-eminent special-collections libraries: UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library and the Huntington Library in San Marino.

Shaler, who is in his fourth year at UCR, said his research delves into California’s Gold Rush period, an era marked by catastrophic and even state-sanctioned violence against Native American communities.

At the time, vigilantes and settler-formed local militias conspired to systematically hunt and kill thousands of indigenous people during a brutal struggle for dominance, land, and resources. The conflicts culminated in events such as the Mariposa War of 1850-51, during which more than 200 settler volunteers attempted to violently remove Miwok and Yokuts people from their ancestral lands in and around Yosemite Valley.

“My research emphasizes Native American voices and histories during the Gold Rush period,” Shaler explained. “I focus specifically on Native communities in the Sierra Nevada mountains, but I’m also tracing the stories of Native Americans and indigenous people from all over the world who came to the same region — including Cherokees, Aboriginal Australians, and Yaquis from Mexico — and exploring the ways they navigated the same violent frameworks encountered by California’s Native Americans.”

Shaler, who is advised by Distinguished Professor of History Clifford Trafzer, noted that many accounts of the period downplay or ignore the histories of indigenous people from around the world who migrated to California at the height of the Gold Rush.

“Those sorts of migrations haven’t received much attention in the past, but I’ve started to see a much broader picture of the indigenous history of California,” he added. “There’s a wealth of material on these rich stories of migration and diaspora in the archives of the Bancroft and Huntington libraries, both of which house some of the most important collections in the world related to California history and the history of the American West.”

Shaler plans to spend the month of June at the Huntington Library, aided by a stipend of $3,500 awarded to him courtesy of the Huntington’s endowments. He’ll finish off the summer at the Bancroft Library, which has provided him with an additional $8,000 grant.

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