On Asian America: Past And Present Stories Of Living In The Rural Northwest

Graphic of On Asian America special
More than 6,600 incidents of anti-Asian assaults have occurred in the last year, with more than 2,800 of those incidents reported in March 2021 alone. That's a 164% increase over the same period last year. Despite the recent surge in anti-Asian hate crimes, these sentiments are far from new to people of Asian descent living in the U.S. and have been echoed throughout history during times of war, disease, and recession.


The Inland Northwest holds a history of violence against Chinese workers. In Hells’ Canyon, at last 34 Chinese miners were murdered for their gold. In Pierce, Idaho, there’s a Chinese hanging tree where five men were killed by white vigilantes.

But not all Chinese were treated terribly. Polly Beamis wasn’t seen as a threat. How does this history relate to today’s views on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders?

In this special hear from Gregory Nokes, author of Massacred for Gold: The Chinese in Hells Canyon, and Dr. Priscilla Wegers, author of Polly Bemis: The Life and Times of a Chinese American Pioneer. You’ll also learn more about the history of Asians in America with Dr. Kornel Chang of Rutgers University. He’s the author of Pacific Connections: The Making of U.S. Canadian Borderlands. 

Then hear about the experiences of several Asian Americans living in eastern Washington. Mysti Meiers and Danielle Kleist from the Tri-Cities and Jill Creighton and Esther Louie of the Palouse region share their experiences with anti-Asian sentiments. 

You’ll also learn about ways to be an advocate to stop anti-Asian hate. 

On Asian America: AAPI Experiences and Identities is a collaboration between Humanities Washington, KUOW, Spokane Public Radio and NWPB. 

Special thanks to correspondent Anna King and producer/editor Connor Henrickson.

Related Stories: