“By the Aid of His Indians”: Native Negotiations of Settler Colonialism in Marin County, California, 1840–70


As archaeology turns to the study of sustained colonialism, researchers are reassessing sites occupied by Native people from the mid-nineteenth century onward. In California, this was a particularly crucial time, with many Indigenous people creating social and economic ties with newcomers in order to maintain connections to their ancestral homelands. One such locale was Toms Point, a landform on Tomales Bay, where Coast Miwok people worked at a trading post run by an American entrepreneur. This article explores the material evidence for their engagement with a broad array of social and economic connections, including the California coastal trade, the salvage of a local shipwreck, and persistent Indigenous exchange networks.

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This research was approved and permitted by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. We thank Audubon Canyon Ranch for access and logistical support during fieldwork. The Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California Berkeley, the David A. Fredrickson Archaeological Collections Facility at Sonoma State University, and the Point Reyes National Seashore all provided access to existing collections and data, for which we are grateful. We appreciate the expertise of James Delgado regarding the Oxford wreck and Elliot Blair regarding glass beads. Three anonymous reviewers offered constructive comments on the original manuscript. Funding sources included a grant from the American Philosophical Society and a Collaborative Research Grant from the National Science Foundation (BCS 1558987 and 1559666).

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Panich, L.M., DeAntoni, G. & Schneider, T.D. “By the Aid of His Indians”: Native Negotiations of Settler Colonialism in Marin County, California, 1840–70. Int J Histor Archaeol 25, 92–115 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10761-020-00549-5

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  • Networks
  • Native Californians
  • Settler Colonialism
  • California