China Men by Maxine Hong Kingston

China Men by Maxine Hong Kingston

Author:Maxine Hong Kingston [Kingston, Maxine Hong]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Asian American, Autobiography, Biography, Historical, Non-Fiction, Personal Memoirs
ISBN: 9780307787811
Google: TxiH9nyc4UoC
Amazon: B004IK8PHI
Publisher: Vintage
Published: 2011-01-26T00:00:00+00:00




The China Man also went to Alaska to strike-it-rich in gold mining. At the top of the world, people wrote in their diaries for entertainment; they recorded the weather and described their health, their daily farming, hunting, and cooking, and the executions they witnessed. Many of them wrote about seeing an old Indian put to death in the middle of a public street: The tribe feasted and drank whiskey. Then while they drummed on walrus hide, the old father calmly brought out a walrus hide thong. A son or a brother came from behind him, noosed his throat, pushed a foot against his back, and broke his neck. There was also a stoning of an Indian woman in Juneau.

The strongest court of law was the miners’ meetings, and the code of self-defense was the miners’ law. Citizenship was cheaper in Alaska; the Citizenship Judge, who followed the prospectors, only asked for a pinch of gold dust. The white miners voted in 1885 that the chinamen be shipped out for fighting with the Indian miners. Posters and newspapers announced that on a certain day in July, chinamen were to report to the waterfront on Douglas Island. Diaries glowed with the weather: “It was a beautiful sight, and one of the few days when the channel was smooth the day it was done.” (Beauty was different in those days, the foliage along the edges of Douglas Island was dead because of the sulphur from the gold mills. After the ore was pounded a hundred and twenty times by nine-hundred-pound pistons, the gold was broken free, and the sulphur was slagged onto the land and into the channel.) Demons came from miles around to see the Driving Out done. There were no fights. The whites stood on the shore with guns and tools; the Indians in their colors paddled fifty war canoes into the channel and rowed away “the entire Chinese population” of one hundred. In Juneau they were put on a schooner to Puget Sound, where they were released.

The area was rid of chinamen except for China Joe, who was a baker in Juneau. He had saved the miners in the Cassiar District from starvation and bad winters by giving bread away. He had opened his stores to everyone. “He was the most loved person in Alaska,” a diarist wrote. When he died, Juneau held the largest funeral Alaska had ever seen.

As soon as they touched shore in Puget Sound, the China Men found ways to return and take back their mines, jobs, houses, and girl friends.

So the next year, there had to be another shipping out (unless it only happened once with two versions of the same event and the dates mixed up). This time the white miners went on strike against the Treadwell Mining Company, and ninety Chinese scabs took their jobs. Treadwell blackballed the strikers, who hired rustlers, claim jumpers, trap looters, to get rid of the chinamen. One of these rowdies or bummers wrote in his diary: “The


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