Friday, February 17, 2012

Pacific Islander American History: Oregon

In last week's post we mentioned the growing Marshallese community in Salem, Oregon, linking to articles in their local press.  While the influx of Marshallese immigrants to Oregon is a relatively new development, Pacific Islanders have called Oregon and other parts of the Pacific Northwest their home for over a century -- in fact, they were living in Oregon before Oregon became a state. 

As far back as the 1800s, Native Hawaiians have been immigrating to what is now Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.  Some returned to Hawaii, but others started families and made new lives for themselves in the western frontier.  To this day some parts of Oregon, like "Owyhee River" and "Kanaka Flat" still incorporate the use of the Hawaiian language (long ago "Owyhee" was a common spelling for "Hawaii" and "Hawaiian"). This reinforces a point we've made before: In addition to the fact that most Pacific Islander Americans are indigenous to land that is now the United States, we've been living in the continental US for well over a century. 

1 comment:

Karin said...

Interesting! Never knew this!!
owhyhee river? awesome!