Originally Published In
Interpreting Ghadar: Echoes of Voices Past 1913-2013. Ghadar Centennial Conference Proceedings. Abbotsford, BC, Canada: Center for Indo-Canadian Studies, University of the Frasier Valley.
Following months of harassment and threats, on September 4, 1907 a mob attacked and drove out over 200 South Asian laborers from Bellingham, Washington. Most of these immigrants, commonly referred to as “Hindus,” were Sikhs who had recently emigrated from Punjab to Canada and then crossed the border to work in large lumber mills. The goal of the rioters was to expel these workers from the mills and the city. In the months following, anti-Punjabi hostilities occurred in other locations in the Puget Sound region of Washington State, causing many more South Asian immigrants to flee back to Canada or further south to Oregon and California. This paper addresses the conflicts that faced the early South Asian immigrants to Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. and examines both causal factors and far-reaching consequences of the conflicts, including exclusionary immigration policies in Canada and the United States and the radicalization of many of these immigrants very similar to what was seen in the sentiments of the Ghadar movement.