Chinese Heritage Tour of the American West

Exploring the uncovered heritage of early Chinese American pioneers over a seven-day tour

Browsing Posts in July 22 trip notes

Tour participants might not have noticed it on Day 1 of the Chinese Heritage Tour of the American West. But food and water magically appeared at different intervals as the bus rolled down the highway.

Think sandwiches, cookies, Vitamin C candy, Chinese candy, chips, chocolate mints, fruit gummies, crackers, bottled water, peanuts and granola bars (different kinds). In fact, you might have forgotten that some of these munchies existed had you not sat down on the tour bus.

So what do these supplies look like?

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A group of us from the Chinese Heritage Tour went out for dinner Thursday to a Chinese restaurant in Eastern Oregon.

I think many of us had cravings for some tasty Chinese food – fresh vegetables, braised meats and the like. I sat at the end of the longish table and looked up to see a plate full of three browned patties with what looked like gravy or cheese on top.

I thought: Who ordered salisbury steak?

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The Chinese gold miners who worked the land north of Granite, Ore. starting in the 1860s left traces of their work and existence - shards from bowls, glass medicine bottles and items with Chinese characters.

When the members of the Chinese Heritage Tour visited the Ah Hee Diggings on Thursday, several used their Chinese reading skills and understanding of Chinese American history to help interpret and better understand artificats collected by the USDA Forest Service.

Those members included Ron Chew, a Seattle resident and former Wing Luke Museum executive director, and Dorothy Ng, a Wing Luke staff member and coordinator for the Heritage Tour.

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Our bus snaked up the mountains of Eastern Oregon on Thursday and arrived at our destination around noon - an unmarked rocky site in the Whitman National Forest about a mile north of Granite.

Members of the 2010 Chinese Heritage Tour exited the bus, carefully made their way across a narrow wooden bridge and gathered under a small clump of trees. That provided a bit of relief from the dry summer heat in this area about 5,000 feet above the sea.

At least by 1867, Chinese miners had arrived, too, in search of gold discovered that decade, researchers have said. Many of the miners had made their way from the Toisan, or Taishan, area of southern China.

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