Sacramento is famous as a place where rivers flow together. The Confluence of the Sacramento with the American River obviously provides the city’s reason for being: Here the “Nile of the West” – a great navigable channel that flows to the Pacific – takes in another major stream that was the source of the gold that made that navigability so important.
The Confluence is also symbolic of the collision between two civilizations. One, represented by the Nisenan, Miwok and Patwin, lived for countless years in a vast fertile valley of almost inconceivable abundance. The newer civilization staked its claim on extraction and exploitation of a different wealth – the minerals that washed down from the mountains.