The Northwest is the site of the worst massacre of
Chinese immigrants in US history. In
Hell’s Canyon by a bend in the Snake River up to 34 Chinese miners were
murdered. Worse yet, some of the killers
were mere school boys, teenagers lured toward easy money and a quick kill by a
nefarious horse thieving rancher. The miners could have been robbed without
taking their lives, but they were hated for being Chinese.
Chinese workers were integral to the building of our
railroads. These men were willing to hang off cliffs to set dynamite charges,
work every day, and endure horrid conditions.
Instead of being thanked for their hard work, appreciated for their
sacrifices, they were hated. Racial
hatred fueled an environment where they were ridiculed, beaten, and robbed
without any hope of justice or protection.
Gold mining was beyond the means of the Chinese when the
claims were paying but as the claims played out they came in to extract the
last reluctant grains of gold. The massacred men had been working for about a
year, amassing gold. They were sitting
ducks for their killers. Sheer cliff
walls and fast flowing water gave them nowhere to run. Their massacre went
Greg Nokes documents
this shameful episode. He worked as a
reporter for the Associated Press and The Oregonian, retiring after 43 years to
write this story.