1863 Indian Massacre Site Uncovered in California
Now, the Paiutes and DWP are fighting to leave the area untouched
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2013 9:29 AM CDT
This July 16, 1997 file photo shows Owens Lake, Calif., about 200 miles north of Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

(Newser) – Archaeologists say they've stumbled upon a grim page in American history: the site of the 1863 Owens Lake massacre. The Los Angeles Times provides a history lesson: The Paiute Indians occupied land some 200 miles north of LA that proved desirable to an influx of ranchers in the mid 1800s. The Owens Valley Indian War broke out in 1861, but a seminal moment occurred on March 19, 1863: Settlers and soldiers battled with the Paiutes, who tried to flee their attackers by swimming into the lake, but were thwarted by a strong wind; nearly three dozen of them drowned or were shot. The tale of that day remains, but the exact location was lost.

That's in part because officials diverted the Owens River in 1913 in order to feed LA's water needs, reports Grist; by the middle of the next decade, Owens Lake was no more. But heavy winds and rains in 2009 may have helped return bullets, buttons, and Native American artifacts to the surface; Los Angeles Department of Water and Power archaeologists found them during a survey last year. But the discovery is spurring a small controversy: The dry lake bed fuels toxic dust storms, and DWP has been charged with mitigating that with shallow flooding—at what is now thought to be the massacre site. The Paiutes want the area left untouched; DWP agrees, and is in discussions on how to make that happen. "We take this personally," says a tribal historic preservation officer. "My grandmother told me about this massacre and she knew the people it happened to. This ground, and the artifacts in it, is who we are."

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Showing 3 of 137 comments
MaximusFubaris
Jun 10, 2013 8:09 AM CDT
Well now! Another historical atrocity. The natives go screwed pretty hard and so did the Mexicans who lost half their country in the War with Mexco, and Treaty of Hildalgo Guadalupe. But this is part of Manifest Destiny! We deserve it, we want it, and we gonna get it, at all costs. And thats how it goes since the beginning of time, the Jews had a Manifest Destiny, per God, of the Promised Land. and so on. There is alsos something called Kharma, where what goes around comes around, so I guess we better get ready.
HMD-SMD-ITY
Jun 9, 2013 8:50 PM CDT
We have a long way to go in Oklahoma City. So when it was created in the late 1800's, many of the street names were of the tribes that inhabited the region. There were two big streets that went through like in many towns. One was Main the other was Grand. So as new town leadership came into power there was a shift in how people saw Indians who occupied the land before the BNSF line dissected it. So those people saw fit to remove all tribal named streets and to date, there are none in the city of around 800,000. They went even further in the 70's when city leaders thought people were confused with the name Grand avenue when we also had Grand boulevard. So they thought about it and decided to change Grand to Sheridan in honor of General Philip Henry Sheridan. He was the most prolific Indian fighter the west had ever seen and was responsible for taking over where the Trail of Tears left off. His job was to decimate native populations in Oklahoma. His final enemy was Geronimo and he built Fort Sill to stage manpower to fight his tribal rebels. One man assigned to the very early Fort Sill was Prescott Bush. He is rumored to have stole Geronimo's skull in a stunt for the Skull and Bones Society at Harvard. The tribe tried to sue them and Harvard but a judge tossed it out on lack of grounds. The people who actually know the location of Geronimo's head will not give out that info because its much like a Muslim tradition to have an unmarked grave. Of course the Indians came up with that 10,000 years ago. But even if ground penetrating radar is able to scan the actual grave site, it has most likely fully returned to dust.
Wrongdirection
Jun 9, 2013 1:30 PM CDT
Bickering views, Ego's and Opinions, Great!... But You'll Never Get Out Of This Life Alive! Welcome to the reality of Human Existence! Take a drink of water, have yourself something to eat, multiply! The Earth is your Home! Take care of one another, Live a good life, Leave anger to destroy itself and do not become a part of it! Clouds are all different and when one is gone at some point in time another will take it's place!