Bucket List Sites Tracing the History of Chinese Immigrants in Oregon Can Now be Investigated

ASHLAND, Ore. — Bucket list sites identified over the years by the Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project to uncover a footprint of Chinese nationals who lived and worked in Oregon can now be investigated and other “dream projects” implemented because of a half-a-million-dollar grant awarded to Southern Oregon University (SOU) by a Congressional spending bill.

The funds will allow students to “better capture the full range of Chinese American heritage and experience in Oregon,” says the director of the SOU Laboratory of Anthropology, Chelsea Rose. She says the money will fund the exploration and documentation of the history of Chinese Oregonians living in diverse geographical areas and working in various industries.


Congressional Grant Allows SOU to Expand its Research

A $499,743 Congressional spending grant allows the award-winning Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project to expand its research beyond 19th -century railroad and mining settlements to include areas statewide where Chinese immigrants lived and worked.

The project can now fund “orphaned” archaeological collections that will result in volunteer opportunities, field schools, public talks, digital content, and exhibitions.

The funding was granted as a direct result of Oregon senators, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, who submitted a request on behalf of SOU to enable students to undertake a statewide inventory of Chinese heritage sites. The funds will cover archival research, field visits, community outreach, and archaeological investigations at between seven and 10 sites that have been identified during the project. The investigations will target sites to fill gaps in the documentary record, said the senators in their request to Congress.

The SOU Laboratory of Anthropology’s (SOULA) Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project is a collaborative and ongoing project to gain a better understanding of the roles played in the history of Oregon by Chinese immigrants. The collaboration includes the Malheur National Forest, the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management, the Oregon Historical Society, Oregon State Parks, the Portland Chinatown Museum, and the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

By uncovering local history and public archaeology, researchers have challenged outdated stereotypes and highlighted the transnational lives of Chinese Americans and immigrants who played a role in establishing Oregon’s early economic industries and infrastructure.

The Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project has won several awards, including a national award of excellence from the American Association for State and Local History, and an award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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