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El Dorado Indian War (1850–1851) was a conflict between Native Americans and miners and California State Militia in what was then the county of El Dorado in California.[1]

Two California State Militia expeditions against the Indians were organized. The First El Dorado Expedition cost the state, $101,861.65, the Second El Dorado Expedition cost the state, $199,784.59. [2]

Lead-up to the War

In 1850, California had just been admitted as the 31st state. At the time Native Americans were not seen as desirable inhabitants. Over the next ten years, California carried on a series of privatized wars of extermination against the Native American people. Peter Burnett, California's first governor, called for the extermination of Indian tribes. In 1850, Burnett and California passed the Act for the Government and Protection of Indians.[3] This act said that "in no case shall a white man be convicted on any offense upon the testimony of and Indian". This was one of many reasons that the Indians and Californians had become unrest at the time of the war. The same act also allowed non-Indians to go through a process and take custody of Indian children. This sparked an illegal market of Indian Children, close to 20,000 Indian children were put in bondage.

Fighting and Results[4]

Governor Peter Burnett started a war against the Indians in 1850. Around the middle of the Summer, a group of Indians had been killed by Californians, this was designed by the Californian's to increase tension between the groups.[5] Wanting revenge, the Indians killed several Californian miners. The Indians were accused of stealing from a state coal-mine and killing miners. 200 state militia men were called up to take on around 200 Miwok Indians. In the first battle, three Indians were killed before the state militia retreated. The first battle was considered a failure. As a result of the first battle, the Miwok's began a raid on the Californian miners, killing several in the process. Thus a second battle began. In a five-hour second battle, 15 Miwok Indians were killed along with two state militia members. This fighting ended up being a one-month campaign that cost the El Dorado County more than $100,000. After the two battles, the leading state militia commander made compromise with the Indians. Negotiations for peace were ratified, ending the Indian War in Dorado.[5]

Peter Burnett, the Governor of California during the El Dorado Indian War.

See also


  1. Paolo Sioli, Historical souvenir of El Dorado County, California: with illustrations and biographical sketches of its prominent men & pioneers, Paolo Sioli, Oakland, 1883, pp.157-159.
  2. Comptroller of the State of California, Expenditures for Military Expeditions Against Indians, 1851-1859, (Sacramento: The Comptroller), Secretary of State, California State Archives, Located at “Roster” Comptroller No. 574, Vault, Bin 39.
  3. California Military History, (n.d.). California and The Indian Wars. Retrieved November 11, 2017, from
  4. Ojibwa, (n.d.). California’s War On Indians, 1850 to 1851. Retrieved November 11, 2017, from
  5. 5.0 5.1 Sioli, P. (n.d.). El Dorado County History. Retrieved November 11, 2017, from

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