Chinese Heritage Tour of the American West

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

Browsing Posts tagged Forest Service Supervisor Dale Hom

On Sunday, the day before the Chinese Heritage Tour ended and people flew back to Seattle, I watched at least three participants shed tears.

It’s OK to do that, you know. In many ways, crying is a healthy form of communication. It shows that your mind and heart are linked up and in good working order – that you have emotion.

The three people - all Chinese Americans - were thinking about their family histories, loved ones, lessons learned and the new stories and friends gained on this year’s one-week Heritage Tour through Washington state, Oregon, Idaho and Nevada.

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The placer – or surface – mining site that eight Chinese men once worked sits near Idaho City, Idaho or about 39 miles from Boise.

It’s officially called the Granite Creek Trailhead and is part of the Boise National Forest. On Friday, the heat was so high that local residents played on rafts or in innertubes in creeks and rivers. The grass had turned dry, yellow.

Around the 1880s, eight Chinese men worked this rocky, approximately 10-acre area to find gold. What they also did was leave evidence of their existence, giving researchers better clues to piece together this region’s history and contributions of Chinese pionners in the American West.

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“America” headed east Tuesday with a group of Chinese American history buffs, ready to pursue stories more than a century old from the Oregon hills.

Actually, the country itself was not moving on the highway.

The name sat on top of the chartered blue bus that left the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle and made its way east on Interstate 90, as the 2010 Chinese Heritage Tour of the American West - the moving part of it, that is - began.

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The Wing Luke Museum in Seattle collaborated with the USDA Forest Service for this second Chinese Heritage Tour of the American West. Beth Takekawa, the museum’s executive director, and Dale Hom, a Forest Service supervisor, take a moment to offer their greetings for this week’s tour.

Hom was instrumental in organizing the first Heritage Tour in 1994 – and this one. Takekawa and staff members at The Wing worked tirelessly to coordinate the logistics – including contacting historians, arranging lodging and putting all the sites in four Western states into historic context.

The International Examiner, a Seattle newspaper, offered a trip preview, written by Paul Kim.

In it, Cassie Chinn, the museum’s deputy executive director, talked about one reason why she participated in organizing this week’s tour. She traveled on the first Heritage Tour in 1994.

She walked away inspired.

The Wing Luke Museum in Seattle strives to accomplish one goal in all of its endeavors - connect people with Asian Pacific American history.

The lessons and stories of the past have always mattered in the United States. Sometimes, they are overlooked. Still, they are important and relevant.

The Wing – as it’s known – is undertaking a rolling history project, of sorts, with this summer’s Chinese Heritage Tour of the American West. It includes stops at historic sites in Washington state, Oregon, Idaho and Nevada. The last trip of its kind was in 1994.

The trip kicks off this evening in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District with an exploration of food once eaten by Chinese American pioneers. On Tuesday, participants board a bus.

We invite you to visit this blog and our Twitter feed throughout the week to get glimpses into the trip and see what participants are experiencing as history appears before their eyes.

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