In 1848, pioneer John Sutter uncovered America’s first “motherlode” of gold in California, a discovery that transformed the landscape, the locals, and the lives of those who went West to seek their fortunes. In this activity, students will learn about the environmental and social changes brought about by the Gold Rush, and the experiences of white, African-American, Chinese, and Cherokee gold-seekers. As a follow-up activity, students will read primary and secondary source documents about the poor conditions and discrimination Chinese miners faced, and write a letter home from a miner’s perspective.