Policy of Removal
Following the rejection of the treaties, a policy of removing native people from areas occupied or coveted by non-Indians began. Temporary reservations, such as Nome Lackee, located twenty miles west of Chico, became the destination of several native groups from the Butte County area, as they were formally "removed" with the assistance of U.S. Army soldiers. It is unclear if any Mechoopda were removed to Nome Lackee, as they were attached to Bidwell's ranch at the time, and likely spared removal.
The next decade saw a dramatic rise in conflict between Indians and non-Indians throughout Butte County. There were several episodes of cruelty and murder perpetrated upon the native population by lawless and unruly individuals accounting for scores of deaths. On occasions when Indians retaliated against such outrages, calls for extermination went out, and retribution was severe. In addition, introduced diseases continued to take a heavy toll. Cholera, influenza, smallpox, tuberculosis, and typhoid appear in the region between 1849 and 1859. In 1853, forty Indians reportedly died from pneumonia at a small village near Cherokee. Historic demographer Sherburne Cook estimated that nearly 800 Maidu must have perished due to disease in 1853.
In 1863, implementation of the plan for (near) complete removal of Indians from Butte County began. Rounded up from small villages throughout the foothills, some 461 left Camp Bidwell, four miles north of Chico, on the long march to Round Valley in Mendocino County. Fourteen days later only 277 reached their destination. Thirty-two people died en-route, and of those, several were known to have been cruelly killed, in some cases for walking to slow. Some men were shot for trying to escape, while others succeeded in their flight.
Most of the Mechoopda were not forced into removal due to their association with John Bidwell, and in effect received his protection. In fact, several of those who managed to escape, either en-route, or later from Round Valley, sought asylum at Bidwell's ranch. In most cases they were granted refuge. Thus, a number of individuals from foothill villages became residents of the new Mechoopda located on Bidwell's Rancho Arroyo Chico.