Early map of Central Pacific Railroad routes from RHS archives.
Inhabitants after 1820
Non-Natives make Contact
White incursion into the Nisenan homeland had a long-lasting effect on Native populations. Starting in the early 1800's the Spanish entered Nisenan land. Fur trapping by outsiders in the late 1820's brought various illnesses that severely affected all of the Native populations of the Eastern Sacramento Valley. In the fall of 1832 trappers brought malaria and other devastating diseases into the valley, which, combined with major flooding of the Sacramento River that occurred in the spring of 1833, allowed the spread of malaria to Native Peoples, who had no immunity. Estimates tell us that between 50 and 75% of the Native population died, during the course of these diseases.
Weakened by disease and continually being harassed and driven off traditional hunting and gathering areas by ranchers and farmers, the Nisenan culture could not withstand the vast influx of whites into the gold fields in 1849. Mining disrupted the landscape, and miners quickly displaced the remaining Native communities, thus putting an end to the traditional life ways of a culture that had prospered and lived in harmony with the land for two millennia.
But that is not the end of the story! Today, descendants of the Nisenan and all of the Maiduan peoples live among us. Many retain and celebrate their language, culture, practices and beliefs.
(Click on "Map of Mining District of California" to enlarge.)