The Tolowa people laid claim to territories in northwestern California and southern Oregon that were continuously encroached upon by white settlers. By 1853, a “war of extermination” had been going on for a while, with settlers forming makeshift militias and slaughtering any Native Americans they encountered.In the fall of that year, the Tolowa and other tribes came together to pray at Yontocket, the spiritual center of their universe, and to perform the world renewal dance. Unknown to them, a group of white people, led by J.M. Peters, was slowly creeping upon the camp.Surrounding the Tolowa, the men began firing, indiscriminately slaughtering everyone in sight. Peters, who lost no men during the massacre, reportedly said that “scarcely an Indian was left alive.” By the end of the violence, hundreds of people had been killed.
Photo credit: Tolowa Coast Trails