The history of the Pacific Northwest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries represents a story of the interaction between different groups of people. The story involves several groups. One consists of American Indians and African Americans while another is composed of the other countries such as China, India, Japan, and the Philippines. Each group has its own social, economic, and political strategies and various ways of interacting with the environment. Additionally, every team possesses a unique mind that influenced the history of the area. The paper examines how people from different backgrounds created political, economic, and social changes in the Pacific Northwest between the 1850s and 1950s.
The Pacific Northwest hides many stories that had happened during the history, one of them is about immigration. The process of migration led to the creation of a mosaic made of people from different background. For example, there were those who came from Asia, particularly from China, Japan, and the Philippines. Besides, American Indians and African Americans most of whom had been brought as slaves were also the part of the mosaic. All these groups with different cultural, social, and political backgrounds changed the structure of the Pacific Northwest.
Immigration introduces major economic changes. When people from Asia arrived in the Pacific Northwest, the area had many resources but was devoid of labor. The migrants, therefore, played a crucial role in filling this void by offering the workforce. People contributed to the development of the place. Undoubtedly, without Asians who came in this region during the 19th century and provided required force, the area would have remained poor and isolated. Further, the African American slaves brought in this region were also involved in the sugarcane plantations as well as in the mining industries. The Asian migrants had created the system of transportation, including the railways. They also contributed to the establishment of industries and the accumulation of wealth that made the Pacific Northwest.
The first industry which employed the Chinese was a gold mine along the Columbia River in the eastern part of Washington. However, they also mined coal from the pits in Newcastle, Renton, which is located in the western part of Washington. The Chinese worker had also constructed rail lines that linked the territory to eastern markets. Indeed, Chinese were instrumental in building almost every primary rail linkage in Washington before 1900. Similarly, the Japanese laborers worked on the rail lines in the construction firstly and after, as porters and supervisors. All those developments were important for the economy of the Pacific Northwest. Those changes led to the prosperity of urban centers and further industrialization. All those aspects enhanced the economy of the place.
The main social changes that occurred at that time were the conflicts related to the employment, rights to vote, and the access to various amenities. At that period, the Pacific Northwest was dominated by American Indians. The other non-Indian nations did not coexist well with Native Americans. In fact, there were occasional conflicts between the natives and the immigrants during that time. Social conflicts ranged from the battles concerning the employment issues to the right of free will among the immigrants. Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino struggled against discrimination from the Native American Indians. Natives did not want Asians or any other foreign group to be employed in the gold mines and sugar plantations. There was also a battle between white Americans and African Americans who were still regarded as slaves. White men did not want the inflow of those black men as they felt that they were taking the jobs that were supposed to be whites'. Even if a foreigner or a black American received a job from the whites, they overworked enslaved with low wages. However, different groups of Asians and black Americans formed associations in response to the discrimination. They used those organizations in order to find a better employment as well as protect individuals from the whites. A good example of such cooperation could be found in the state of Oregon after World War II. World War II created an awful relationship between America and the Asian countries, especially Japan. Thus, Americans from Oregon discriminated unfairly against Asians on the grounds of employment, race, education, and many other social amenities. The other social conflict existed during the Modoc War that occurred between 1872 and 1873. The Modoc Campaign involved a handful of the Modoc Indian soldiers and their families against the US army. For almost seven months the Modoc soldiers managed to contain the US army.
There was also a conflict between middle and working class activists who were concerned about who had rights to control the open space. However, despite those conflicts both working whites and middle-class whites worked together on the environmental issues, health and safety of citizens, including workers. Therefore, the social issues and changes resulted from the interaction between people with different backgrounds in the Pacific Northwest.
The geographic location of the territory had a profound effect on the important political changes. The Northwest coast consists of Southeast Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. Between the 1850s and 1940s, this cultural region experienced wars as the American army campaigned to conquer the area dominated by American Indians. It is a perfect example of political resistance because the Indian nation did not want any assimilation with the USA. During previous periods of the US history, the federal officials usually expressed a preference for Indians to surrender their lands and in return, they could attain full assimilation. However, the policymakers thought that absorption would present a better alternative to physical extinction. They managed to avoid later accusations by historians for genocide intentions. The US military executions did not target every single person on their way. Though, they were planning to inflict enormous and catastrophic violence to ensure compliance of the Indian nations. The operations were the potential for the massacre as the Americans massacred civilians rather than the soldiers. However, the US forces failed their mission miserably in several instances because of indigenous capabilities.
Indian fighters were highly skilled. During one case in 1879, which is known as the Little Big Horn, the soldiers were able to cause a tremendous damage to the invaders. Indians used intelligence-gathering systems to launch surprise attacks. They improved already existing tactics for evacuation and for the protection of noncombatants. Through this well-organized system, they prevented the potential massacre. Only in some cases, troops could manage their way through the Indian defenses and kill women, children, and elderly men. In other rare moments, they also killed the Indians who were not involved in the resistance. For example, a sad story “Creek and Marias massacres” portrayed a message that all Indians whether resistant or not were subjected to extermination. Army officers occasionally expressed genocidal attitudes, the most famous one is "Phil Sheridan's statement” that "the only good Indian I ever saw was dead."
Social and economic changes with the political-cultural resistance that existed between the 1850s and 1940s still have some impact today. All those changes, including the introduction of the mining industry, railway constructions, and urbanization, have the great effects on today’s society.