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Indian Peggy Warns of Imminent Attack on Yreka, Calif.

Relations between whites and Native American tribes throughout Northern California and Southern Oregon were rarely easy, and for many years, devastating for native peoples.  After gold was discovered in 1851 near today’s Yreka, Calif., hostility and violence grew.

Sometime in 1852, a Shasta woman the miners called “Indian Peggy” warned that a surprise attack was planned by members of her tribe, beginning in nearby Humbug.  The tiny mining town was abandoned and the attackers arrived only to learn the raid had been thwarted.

To this day, whether Indian Peggy’s decision to warn the settlers was based on fear the miners would retaliate against her own people, or she acted out of concern for the miners will never be known, but until her death in 1902, at approximately 100 years of age, Indian Peggy was a frequent and honored visitor to Yreka.

In 1951, the Siskiyou County Historical Society dedicated a marker embedded in a spherical boulder at her grave, reading: “Indian Peggy, born about 1800. Died October 26, 1902.  Beloved member of the Shasta tribe.  A friend of Indians and Whites.  Saved Yreka by warning them of an Indian attack.”


Source: "Celebrities, Scoundrels, and Scenes from Yreka’s Colorful Past." A History of Early Yreka, California. Yreka Chamber of Commerce, web. 19 Feb. 2016. .

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.