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Related Categories: Americas | California | Central Valley | Environment & Forest Defense | Racial Justice
Discovering Black Agriculture at Sutter's Fort, Alta California, Mexico (1840 - 1848)
by Khubaka, Michael Harris
Monday May 8th, 2017 7:56 AM
John Sutter first arrived in California in 1839, his vision to build an agricultural empire was supported in so many ways by people of Russian, Hawaiian, Mexican, Native American and African ancestry. Officially, John Sutter served the essential role as diplomat and military support for the Republic of Mexico, based at Sutter’s Fort, 1840 – 1848.
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Sacramento, California ~ Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park is the oldest restored military fort in California depicting early pioneer life via costumed docents, programs & exhibits. It is time to official include the salient contributions by people of African ancestry as a featured part of daily living history activities, reflecting the authentic daily life (1840 – 1848) in Alta California, Mexico.

The California Gold Rush experience comes alive at Historic Old Sacramento Historic State Park, Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park, Negro Bar Historic State Park and Marshall Gold Rush Discovery Historic State Park.

For generations, seemingly willful exclusion and systemic racial discrimination prohibited telling the authentic unique story of the pioneer spirit by people of African ancestry during the California Gold Rush, within our California State Parks, especially Negro Bar State Historic Park.

At the dawn of the 21st century, a consistent systemic effort continues to share primary source documentation focused upon research, presentation and preservation of our unique California African American Heritage. Both enslaved and free, people of African ancestry were a central part of the transition from Spanish colonization, Mexican rule and finally on September 9, 1850, California was officially admitted as the 31st State within the United States of America.

A very different view of the past, present and future potential of African Americans is possible by including our authentic history. People of African ancestry played essential roles such as; financial venture capitalist, cook, barrel maker, trapper, military scout, and official US Diplomat for the United States of America.

In fact, when John Sutter first arrived in California in 1839, his vision to build an agricultural empire was supported in so many ways by people of Russian, Hawaiian, Mexican, Native American and African ancestry. Officially, John Sutter served the essential role as diplomat and military support for the Republic of Mexico, based at Sutter’s Fort, 1840 – 1848.

Today, our Sacramento region shares the bounty of our vast production agriculture diversity with the world. Globally, we are known as the "Farm-to-Fork Capitol of America," the Gold Rush part of leading “California Grown” brand of high quality, nutritious fruits, vegetables, nuts, flowers, grains and much more…

Going forward, regional California State Parks can feature for local and international visitors the growing popular notion of seasonal and locally sourced agriculture production, the essential part of our African American Heritage along the American River Parkway, since Gold Rush California.

California’s agricultural industry leadership is considering expanding “farmer equity” to include people of African ancestry, mirroring the actual scene on our California State Seal, sharing a tradition of maritime excellence and agriculture export to global markets from Leidesdorff Ranch, a 35,500 acre wheat and cattle ranch, next door neighbor to Sutter Fort.

Our California State Parks mission is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high quality outdoor recreation.

Inclusion of the profound impactful historical legacy by our California “hidden figures” of African ancestry can enhance and bring renewed global tourist attraction, helping to preserve for future generations our precious natural and cultural public resources.