Butte County mining camps and foothill farms were an active front in the California Indian wars. Using centuries-old tribal tactics, Butte Creeks, the Mountain Maidu tribelets’ warriors, resisted settlers’ seizures of their territories. Making a strategic shift, in 1857, they acquired bases in the neighboring Yahi’s Deer Creek Canyon. They merged with renegades and Yahi fighters, called Mill Creeks, whose raids had terrified Maidu and Tehama County farmers through the mid-1850s. Meanwhile, quarrels between miners and farmers and with John Bidwell continued as Civil War loyalties undermined unity against the Indian raiders, now out of Deer Creek. In 1863, Bidwell urged the Interior Department to expunge Butte County of all the Maidu—except his own workers, mostly Mechoopda Maidu. After centuries of self-governance, this independent tribelet had to labor for him on their own historic territory. A few Mechoopdas, remembering the dignity of autonomy and self-sufficiency, joined in Mountain Maidu raids on Bidwell’s ranch. Bloody Butte County conflicts culminated in 1865 with that county’s final round of Indians’ and settlers’ mutual retaliatory killings.

"A richly informative investigation of a tragic episode." --Kirkus Reviews


About Michele J. Shover:  First female political science faculty member and department chair (1977–83); expert in political and legal theory and American government.

Helped organize and was president, Chico chapter, United Professors of California, and was a leader in the local branch of the California Faculty Association.

Research writings on John Bidwell, Northern California Indian-settler conflicts of the 1850s, Chapmantown, Chico’s historic Chinese community, and equal rights for women in education and employment opportunities.


  • Hardcover : 432 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1935807153
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1935807155
  • Publisher : Stansbury Publishing (January 1, 2017)

California Standoff: Miners, Indians and Farmers at War 1850-1865