American Turban

The impact of 1907’s Bellingham Riots on civil rights today

Front page of the American Reveille, September 7, 1907 (photo: depts.washington.edu/civilr/bham_news.htm)

Front page of the American Reveille, September 7, 1907 (photo: depts.washington.edu/civilr/bham_news.htm)

The South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA) recently posted to their website a documentary entitled “Present In All That We Do“, that discusses the Bellingham Riots and the impact today of those attacks on migrant Sikh and Indian laborers in Washington State in 1907:

Present in All That We Do (2007) is a 58 minute-long documentary that connects the 1907 “Anti-Hindu” riot in Bellingham, Washington to contemporary struggles for immigrant rights in Whatcom County. Written by Andrew Hedden and Ian Morgan to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Bellingham riots, the film features interviews with current residents of Bellingham and historical images from the riots. The film is narrated by Antasia Parker.

I just returned from a trip to the Pacific Northwest that included a visit to Bellingham, Washington. I observed a large number of Sikhs and Indians in that area, and wondered how many of them and others are cognizant of this century-old history.

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2 comments

  1. Thanks for posting this. I did my MA thesis in history on the Hindustani Ghadar Party and I used the riot in Bellingham as one of the watershed moments that helped create the Ghadar Party.

    • The Bellingham Riot seems to be a lesser known event in Sikh American history, especially when you contrast that with the Komagata Maru incident in Canada, which happened only a few years later and which is much more widely known, acknowledged and commemorated.

      The Riot is certainly made all the more significant if the attacks did play a role in the creation of the Ghadar Party. Thanks for bringing my attention to that angle.

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