A major genocide was conducted on Native Americans who resided in the Great Basin (California), a watershed which had supported the tribes for more than 14,000 years.

Peter Burnett, California’s first governor, declared that California was a battleground between the races and that there were only two options for California Indians, extinction or removal. The State of California directly paid out $25,000 in bounties for Indian scalps with varying prices for adult male, adult female, and child sizes. It also provided the basis for the enslavement and trafficking of Native American labour, particularly that of young women and children, which was carried on as a legal business enterprise. Miners, loggers, and settlers formed vigilante groups and local militias to hunt the Natives, regularly raiding villages to supply the demand.

The Native population of California, once perhaps as high as 705,000 in numbers, but by 1845 already down to some 150,000, further spiralled downward until by 1890 it had reached below 20,000.