Saturday, June 9, 2012

Asian American History in the NW

Chinese Americans in the Columbia River Basin - Historical Overview The 1,200-mile long Columbia River drains a 259,000-square-mile basin that includes territory in seven states (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah) and one Canadian province. The Columbia River Basin Ethnic History Archive project spotlights a variety of people who have migrated to this part of the Pacific Northwest over the past two hundred years.

Crossing East - Asian American History series Peabody award-winning series of eight news-friendly one-hour documentaries on the many waves of Asian immigration. Hosted by George Takei and Margaret Cho. It tells the stories of Asian involvement in American history through interviews, archives, scholar commentary, and reenactments. Crossing East is the first comprehensive radio series on Asian American history. Excerpt: "Think of the first Asians in America, and images of railroad builders, gold miners and laundry workers come to mind. But Asians came East from Asia to explore the new continent long before there was an America. Sailors and adventurers from China, Japan, the Philippines and Hawaii boarded ships heading East in the 16th century. Some scholars speculate even earlier. Depending on how far you want to go, it's safe to say that Asians have a long history of crossing East to America."

No Place for Your Kind is a narrative photography project that documents contemporary locations where anti-Chinese violence took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in America and combines the images with stories about the events that happened at those sites.

Japanese Americans in the Columbia River Basin - Historical Overview Excerpt: "Japanese immigrants first came to the Pacific Northwest in the 1880s, when federal legislation that excluded further Chinese immigration created demands for new immigrant labor. Thousands of Japanese workers helped construct the railroads. Japanese in larger cities like Portland provided rooming houses, restaurants, stores, social contacts, and employment services that helped new immigrants get established in the region. As new irrigation projects expanded sugar beet production in the West during the early 1900s, employers such as the Utah and Idaho Company actively recruited the Issei to work farms. Soon Japanese immigrants spread throughout the Northwest to provide farm labor, hoping to eventually own their own farms."

Japanese American Activist Timeline from the website of the “Legacy of Japanese American Activism," an intergenerational conference of Nikkei activists to discuss critical community issues and to take action around these issues. The conference was held in November, 2011 at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. The site includes interviews with prominent Japanese American activists.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 9066 gave "the army the power, without warrants or indictments or hearings, to arrest every Japanese-American on the West Coast-110,000 men, women, and children-to take them from their homes, transport them to camps far into the interior, and keep them there under prison conditions. Three-fourths of these were Nisei-children horn in the United States of Japanese parents and therefore American citizens. The other fourth-the Issei, born in Japan-were barred by law from becoming citizens. In 1944 the Supreme Court upheld the forced evacuation on the grounds of military necessity. The Japanese remained in those camps for" up to 4 years -Howard Zinn. Read his critical analysis of the conception that World War II was really a "people's war" against fascism, as opposed to yet another inter-imperialist conflict with nothing to offer working people.

Children of the Camps: Internment History This site provides information about Japanese American children incarcerated for up to 4 years in remote camps following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and president-issued Executive Order 9066, which permitted the military to circumvent the constitutional safeguards of American citizens in the name of national defense. The order set into motion the evacuation and mass incarceration of 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast, most of whom were U.S. citizens or legal permanent resident aliens, half of whom were children.


Oregon Historical Society's Asian Pacific American History in Oregon As the steward of Oregon’s history, the Oregon Historical Society educates, informs, and engages the public through collecting, preserving, and interpreting the past . . . in other words, Oregon history matters.

Oregon Blue Book's overview of Oregon Chinese-American history The Oregon Blue Book is the state's official directory and fact book. It contains listings and functional descriptions of government agencies and educational institutions. It also features an almanac, maps, facts about Oregon history and elections, as well as information on the arts, media, and other cultural institutions in Oregon.

Chinese American Woman Suffrage in 1912 Portland In 1870 Oregon suffragists began the arduous fight for the vote; in 1912 Oregon woman achieved suffrage, and in 1920 the Nineteenth Amendment was passed, which allowed most U.S. women to vote and hold office. There were similar woman suffrage movements occurring all over the world in places such as New Zealand, England, and China. While all were equally important, the movement in China was of specific interest for Chinese American and American woman suffrage groups in Portland, Oregon. In Portland, transnational groups were established by members of the community such as Mrs. S. K. Chan, who was not only a physician, but also the president of a local equal suffrage society for Chinese women in Oregon. While much of their work is currently unknown, it is clear that Oregon suffragists were affiliated with Chinese American women’s groups located in the Portland area.

Oregon Public Broadcasting's Oregon Experience: Kam Wah Chung In the late 1800s, thousands of Chinese miners came to Eastern Oregon in search of gold. Among them were two men - Ing “Doc” Hay and Lung On - who opened a store and herbal apothecary called Kam Wah Chung in John Day, Oregon. Though originally catering to their fellow Chinese, over time these two men attended to the medical needs of many, becoming highly regarded members of the community. The apothecary is now houses a museum, the Kam Wah Chung Museum and State Heritage Site.

The Oregon History Project: Portland's Chinese Community The Oregon History Project is an online resource for learning about Oregon's past. In these pages, historians and writers can help you explore the history of Oregon through the perspectives of the people who helped shape Oregon.

Oregon History Project - 1870-1920: Importing Asian Labor

Oregon History Project: Changes in Portland's Chinese and Japanese Immigration (1900-1920)

Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center is Japanese American history museum in Portland, charged with the preservation and sharing of the history and culture of the Japanese American community. The term "Nikkei" means Japanese emigrants and their descendants. The website includes several online exhibits.

Image credit: Columbia River Basin Ethnic History Project Archive


Asian Americans and Seattle's civil rights history This page is a gateway to the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project resources for exploring the civil rights activism of Asian Americans in the Pacific Northwest. Included are activist oral histories, research reports, newspaper reports, photographic collections, maps, historical documents.

Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs: Snapshot of Asian Pacific Americans in Washington State In Washington State, there are over 674,573 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). It is expected that in twenty years, the community will make up 10 percent of the total state population and there will be 33.4 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in our nation by 2050. Over 47 distinct Asian and Pacific Islander communities exist representing various cultures and immigration patterns. Today Washington State ranks in the top ten states with the most Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, claiming 5th place. Nearly 88 percent of the population lives in the greater Puget Sound area. The site includes a timeline of Asian Pacific American History in Washington State.

A History Bursting With Telling: Asian Americans in Washington State Developed by the Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest whose mission is to promote and disseminate knowledge on the peoples and issues that have defined and shaped the Pacific Northwest.

HistoryLink, the Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History: First Japanese known to reach Washington state arrive in January 1834

Japanese American family, studio portrait, ca. 1909 - Image credit: University of Washington

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