Regional Nonfiction

Dreams of the West By Portland State University & Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association


Who were the pioneers of the American West? Some of them we already know: European Americans who traveled across North America on horseback, in covered wagons or on foot, or sailed from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Lesser known are the immigrants who, by the 1850s, began sailing east from Southern China, primarily from the Guangdong Province. They arrived in the western American port towns in California, Oregon, and Washington. These Chinese immigrants, fleeing the hardships of their homeland, sought the same prosperity as all immigrants to America. While some Chinese immigrants found riches in Oregon’s high deserts, gold-mined mountains, coastal fisheries, and bustling Portland metropolis, many faced extreme racism, legal discrimination, and exploitation.