California Indian Pandemics

General Mariano Vallejo’s Petaluma Adobe

The first view of the great valley filled me with emotion. It was a case of love at first sight, which better acquaintance would only deepen…nowhere, was there a scene of such beauty and suggestion of everything desirable for man. ~Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo

The adobe was built by Indian labor between 1836 and 1846.

From the park’s website
· Q: Were there slaves here?
· A: NO. The definition of a slave is “property”.
The Native Americans that worked here were not considered “property.” In California Indian life of the recent past, European diseases devastated entire tribes.Because Native American populations were not previously exposed to most diseases introduced by European colonists, they had not built up individual or population immunities.

Numerous diseases were brought to the Americas, including smallpox, bubonic plague, cholera, diphtheria, malaria, measles, scarlet fever, sexually transmitted diseases, typhoid and tuberculosis.

Each of these brought destruction through sweeping epidemics, involving disability, illness, and extensive deaths.

The most destructive disease brought by Europeans was smallpox. Smallpox was lethal to many Native Americans.

During the 1770s, smallpox killed at least 30% of the West Coast Native Americans. A conservative estimate, we believe. The crowding into reservations that was a result of the widespread relocation and concentration of native groups by the expansion of European settlement also greatly influenced the susceptibility of native people to these foreign diseases.

As far as we know, no similar chart has been compiled for California Indian tribes.

There are still survivors, Native Californians, here now.

We should be grateful today that the Coronavirus is not wiping out whole towns and cities. Health is our only real wealth.