My name is Rebekah Canada. My personal passions include writing and genealogy. This is the story of my ancestors, and it is my story.
I was born in Redding, California in 1974. At the time the economy of much of the Sacramento valley was stagnating, and the United States as a whole faced double digit inflation. Decades of exploitation by white settlers cast a long shadow that did nothing to shade the valley. Cattle ranchers cut the heritage oaks to expand grazing land and sell fire wood leaving open grass that baked in the summer sun. The one time sundown city of Redding straddled the Sacramento river a blight on a once lush landscape.
Along the western coast of North America, the Klamath mountains, the Cascades, and the Sierra Nevada come together. Below their heights is the great valley. Within it, the Sacramento Valley was once a place of heritage oaks, the rushing Sacramento river, and bountiful wildlife. Rightfully, this was the home of the Wintu.
The first European colonizers followed the landing of Juan Cabrillo and his crew far to the south in 1542. The valley remained mostly undisturbed though until Russian fur trappers expanded into it in the 1810s. Then, in 1844, Pierson B. Reading a citizen of the United States from New Jersey received a large land grant along the Sacramento river. Time passed, and the California Gold rush and the railroad brought more people to the area. A settlement was formed and named Redding after a politician, Benjamin Bernard Redding.
Colonization and exploitation spurred waves of population growth in Redding. The copper mines of the early 20th century were economically replaced with the logging industry. In the surrounding mountains, forests were cut down. The trees were milled to lumber in the valley. Eventually, this too would falter.
Thus, though I was born there, this was not the home of my early childhood. Instead, I lived in that place of Juan Cabrillo’s first landing, San Diego…