The 1875 report concerning the character of the Indians, as well as their conditions and wants, provides a review of their history beginning with the establishment of the missions by Spain and the mission successes from 1769-1833. The report addresses the impact of Mexican Independence in 1822 and the issuance of private grants to “land grabbers,” particularly upon the passing of a bill to secularize the missions and introduced for the ostensible purpose of carrying out the original design of the missions. The Commissioner described the bill as the “pretext … covered very thinly a scheme to rob the Indians” laying waste the whole fabric of mission influence. The property and homes of thousands of Indians became the property of a few landlords with Mission Indians becoming practically outcasts, notwithstanding their love for their homes and willingness to work, with their condition was wretched in the extreme and become worse each year. Conflicts between the Indians and whites were constantly arising. The blame is placed upon the Government and Congress for failure to establish any practical means for the settlement of Indians. Commissioner Wetmore provided numerous recommendations on the areas of difficulty that needed to be addressed by the Government and Congress.
This 1877 report references 36 Tribes of California including, but not limited to, their habitats, customs, sustenance, mythology and language. The report concludes with chapters on General Facts regarding the natives of California, Aboriginal Botany and thoughts on prehistoric California. [Pages 4 and five of the Preface are missing.]