Population Numbers and Declines
Year Population or Change
1770 1,000 to 3,300
1858 State militia unit (Trinity Rangers) killed Northern California Natives rampantly for 5 months and were mustered out of service. –North Coast Journal
1860 Twelve massacres over 2 to 5 days by lynch mob of European settlers –North Coast Journal
In the early hours of Feb 26 1860 the Whites began their 2 day massacre (up to 5 days by other accounts) on at least 12 CA Indian sites. Dulawat village on Indian Island, on the lower Eel River, at least two locations on the South Spit, at Table Bluff, in the Fortuna area, in the Rio Dell area, at Humboldt Point, several ranches on Elk River, and the village of Kutserwalik at Bucksport.
Cousins Matilda and Nancy Spear gathered up their three children at the start of the massacre and hid with them on the west side of the island. Afterwards, they found seven other children left alive. They put the entire group in a canoe, rowed them across the bay, and then walked to Matilda’s husband’s homestead in Freshwater.75 Nancy later described the massacre to her nephew: “They came like weasels in the night, crawling on their bellies. We were without any men to protect us. We had never fought the white men and had thought they were our friends.”
– (The Matilda & Nancy Spear Memorial Foundation. Brochure. Photocopy in the “Indian Island Massacre” file, Humboldt County Collection, Humboldt State University Library, Arcata.)