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125th anniversary of Chinese expulsion from Tacoma inspires symbolic walk: Chinese Reconciliation Park to raise awareness

Here’s my latest for the Northwest Asian Weekly.

125th anniversary of Chinese expulsion from Tacoma inspires symbolic walk: Chinese Reconciliation Park to raise awareness

The four-acre park, on land donated by the National Guard, commemorates the Chinese expulsion from Tacoma. (Photo provided by Lihuang Wung)

While most major cities have a Chinatown, Tacoma does not have one for a reason.

In the 1870s, hundreds of Chinese immigrants came to the Tacoma area to help build a portion of the Northern Pacific Railroad line. They were ordered to leave a decade later. With economic depression fueling unemployment fears, anti-immigrant sentiments, and racial bigotry, Tacoma residents devised a plan to drive immigrant workers out of the community. The result was an order for all Chinese workers in Tacoma to leave the city by Nov. 1, 1885.

About 400 Chinese fled, and Little Hong Kong, a fishing village on Maury Island, vanished.  Roughly 200 Chinese stayed behind. A group led by the mayor and other city officials evicted the remaining Chinese from their homes two days later. The workers were forced to board the morning train to Portland, Ore.

In addition to the expulsion, two Chinese settlements were burned to the ground. The Chinese were actively discouraged from settling in the area until the 1920s. These acts became known as the Tacoma Method.

“This is what happened before,” said Theresa Pan Hosley. “We shouldn’t let it happen again.”

Hosley, a Taiwanese immigrant, is the president of the Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation (CRPF), a nonprofit organization founded in 1994 and dedicated to that very cause. The CRPF’s goals are to educate people about this portion of Tacoma’s history, promote and celebrate cultural diversity, and set a reconciliation example for other communities nationwide that have had similar events in their histories.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

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