An Overview of California Gold Rush

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The event I attended was watching an Indigenous rock opera film called “Something Inside is Broken” by Jack Kohler and Alan Wallace. The opera illustrated the uneventful times Native Americans had to deal with during the time of the California Gold Rush in the 1800s. As I was watching the Indigenous rock opera, there was cultural dancing, music in both English and Nisenan language, and tragedy of Native American slavery. The whole film brings awareness of how Native Americans, especially Native American women were brought in as slaves for the white settlers in the West.

As I was watching the opera, I was unaware that Native Americans were used as slaves during the time of the California Gold Rush. Around 300,000 Native Americans migrated to small villages in the Sacramento Valley area. This eye opening experience presented how mistreated the Native Americans were as being brought in as slaves and sexually objectified by pioneer settlers. In the opera, a Swiss pioneer settler named Johann Sutter was responsible of owning and selling Native American slaves. Sutter sold and bought Native American women and children into slavery by making them clean, cook, and used as sex objects. As for Native American men, Sutter manipulated and took advantage of them, especially native chiefs, into making them believe their village would be untouched if they followed his tasks. Unfortunately, Sutter used his manipulation to gain power in killing Native Americans and kidnapping women and children to become servants.

After viewing the film, I look back on how this ties in what we have learned about Native Americans in films. For example, the use of sexual objectification against women and domestic violence has been an issue brought up in many films we have watched in class. A couple films we watched such as Wind River and Rhymes for Young Ghouls represents Native American domestic and sexual violence. In Rhymes for Young Ghouls, many children were taken into residential school systems brainwashed into Canadian culture beliefs and values. Many children were beaten, physically, and sexually abused. In Wind River, the movie captures the issues of Native American sexual violence that occurs on the reservations. This film brings awareness of the ongoing issue of unreported sexual violence happening to Native American women. Something Inside is Broken relates to both of these movies on an extreme level of both domestic and sexual violence that has been happening to Native Americans for many years. All of the films bring realization of how mainstream media has ignored what has happened to Native Americans throughout history.

Overall, Something Inside is Broken is a film that gives us a strong background of Native American history we are not taught. The film represents what has happened to Native Americans through a story-telling rock opera. Director Jack Kohler wanted to bring awareness to how this part of history has changed drastically for Native Americans. Something Inside is Broken has changed the way I view Native American history. After being unaware of what has happened to Native Americans during the time of the California Gold Rush, I realized it is important to spread this part of history that many are unaware about. Talking about Native American issues that have happened in the past will help raise awareness of how they were represented and treated.  

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An Overview Of California Gold Rush. (2021, Apr 15). Retrieved May 20, 2024 , from

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