At Cal State Long Beach, a handsome statue known as “Prospector Pete” will be moved and sports teams will drop the the 49ers mascot because Gold Rush references now count as racist. One Native American activist said that “walking by a statue that’s put in a prominent place… that’s another type of trauma that’s being imposed on me.”
But if the Gold Rush that began 170 years ago was a calamity then California itself is a calamity. The state exists because of the fastest migration in human history with nearly 300,000 newcomers arriving to seek instant wealth. They included Chinese, Hawaiians, Latin Americans, Australians and even Native people from outside California. The gold they drew from the earth built the federal treasury and helped make America an economic superpower for the first time.