In the early days of the Gold Rush, from the very beginning, frustrated Anglo American miners banded together to form groups of essentially vigilante or volunteer militia groups. They were ad hoc organizations, and their stated objective was to exterminate the “red devils,” to eliminate the obstacles that the native Californians had become in their minds. And their modus operandi was to attack native villages wherever they might find them in the vicinity of their mining activities, to eliminate their presence utterly, killing the men, the women, and the children. And this was considered to be a necessity.
“The only way we will be able to mine in security, if all of these people are exterminated.” And the language that they used at the time, “extermination,” was precisely describing what they were attempting to do.
The Native Americans in California of course attempted to resist the onslaughts onto their villages. They would fight back with whatever weapons they had at hand. But they were vastly outgunned and vastly outnumbered, and were very infrequently able to mount an effective defense."