From 1846 onward, at least 20,000 California Indians worked in varied forms of bondage under U.S. rule. This essay provides the first article-length survey of the statewide rise and fall of California’s systems of Indian servitude under U.S. rule, including their Russo-Hispanic antecedents, establishment under martial law, expansion under civilian rule, and dismantling by state and federal authorities. Further, this article proposes the first taxonomy of these systems and, in conclusion, discusses how California Indian servitude illuminates the histories of California, the western United States, the nation as a whole, and the western hemisphere while suggesting new analytical methods and research directions.

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