American history has often overlooked the contributions of Chinese Pioneers in the American West in the mid- to late-1800s. However, these Chinese laborers have left behind physical and cultural remnants of the past woven into the fabric of our country. The retelling of these stories is important because Chinese presence during the mid- to late-1800s often solicited hatred. Newspaper articles focused more on describing Chinese as foreign threats to the American workforce, and editorial cartoons were often racist. In reality, many Chinese immigrants were driven from mining camps and eventually Chinatowns through intimidation, arson, violence and murder. Those who managed to survive were either returned to China or moved into larger cities. But the evidence of their hard work and dedicated contributions remain scattered across the physical landscape, in documents deep in the recesses of local historical societies, and in government records.
The U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management are partnering with the APA (Asian Pacific American) Heritage Collaborative to spotlight Chinese immigrant contributions, to ensure the legacy of these early American immigrants is long remembered. This website serves as a repository of Chinese pioneer contributions during the mid- to late-1800s in California and western Nevada. The goals of this website are to promote efforts to conserve, explore, and interpret historically significant sites in California and Nevada; to share how public and surrounding lands were historically used by early Asian Pacific American pioneers; and to encourage people to explore heritage sites. Through this program, we aim to focus on building an awareness and understanding of inter-relationships in natural systems between people and the land, and the sustainability of natural resources.