History of the Asian Indian cultural group in America

Question 1:

The American society is made up of people from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Through migration from different countries, different people have settled in the United States making it as diverse as it is today. One of the groups that make up one of the largest percentage of America’s foreign population is the Asian Indians. This group is composed of people from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India (Thernstrom 234). Their immigration into the United States started in the 1850s and has been continuing even in the contemporary society. During the early twentieth century, an influx of Asian Indians was experienced in the United States. Their experiences were different from that of modern Asian Indians. The aim of this paper is to understand different aspects of the Asian Americans between 1900 and 1920 and how this is different from how they are treated in the modern society.

Between 1900 and 1920, numerous Asian Indians from different countries migrated into the United States in search of employment and business opportunities. The first group of Asian Indians to arrive in the country was Sikhs who formed a religious community in the different parts of America. However, as the years went on, more Asian Indians especially traders and merchants came into America. These Asian Indians settled in California, Oregon and Washington areas, which favored their business activities (Frazier 310). During these early years of immigration, Asian Indians settled in groups where they lived in communities made up of people from the same country.

In the years between 1910 and 1920, Asian Indians in America generally worked in agricultural farms. By having similar agricultural experiences in their home countries, Asian Indians were preferred as farm workers during this period. The area around California was the most preferable working ground for Asian American as agriculture was the main economic activity here (Thernstrom 311). In the first years of settling as agricultural workers, Asian Indians received low wages but as they got more experienced, the wages were increased to reflect their expertise in farming. Additionally, some Asian Indians worked in the construction sector, which was booming in this period. It is also important to note that through the different forms of employment that Asian Indians got in America during this period, they were able to purchase land. By 1920, the California area had experienced an increase in the number of Asian Indian landowners in the area (Dassanowsky and Lehman 456). This was the beginning of the development that is seen today among Asian Indians.

The Asian Indian cultural group was as diverse in terms of cultural origins as it is now. The Asian Indians were from different countries and more specifically from different ethnic backgrounds. This meant that the Asian Indians did not have one uniting language but spoke in their different dialects. During the period being discussed here, Asian Indians used their native language in communicating (Frazier 312). However, the need to learn English escalated as more opportunities opened up. Through the different support programs that existed during this period, Asian Indians learnt English, which made communication easier for them. Additionally, by 1920, several Asian Indian students joined American universities as well. They also worked in the agricultural farms to earn money for upkeep. As the years went by, an increase in the number of Asian Indian students studying in America increased sharply.

In terms of culture, during this period, some Asian Indians were influenced by the American culture and started practicing the Western cultural traditions. However, the biggest population of Asian Indians retained their culture through common practice of their traditions. Even today, it is possible to recognize distinctively Asian Indians through their cultural traditions. Concepts like religion, weddings, funerals and Asian Indian diet remained the same even after influence from the American culture (Thernstrom 298). It is also important to note that Asian Indians did not practice general customs but followed particular ethnic traditions depending on where a person came from. Asian Indians were very specific about their cultural heritage during this period. Although restricted by the availability of resources and freedom, Asian Indians continued to hold onto their culture.

The Asian American also had some difficulties while settling in America during this period. One of the major challenges that they faced was discrimination and stereotyping, which was a major problem during this period. First, during these years, the Asian American people faced violence from other European settlers. Additionally, at times Asian Indians were chased out of the farms where they worked. For example, in 1907, the Asiatic Exclusion League (AEL) was organized to fight for the expulsion of Asian Indians from the agricultural farms (Frazier 310). They were seen as intruders who took the place of other European workers in the United States. Additionally, people would hold demonstrations to demand for the exclusion of Asian Indians from the use of public resources. In September of the same year, over 500 people raided Asian Indian houses, robbed and beat them. This was one of the worst cases of discrimination against Asian Indians in America. The riots continued and were witnessed in different towns including Bellingham and Everett. During this period, laws were also put in place to deny other Asian Indians legal entry into America. Additionally, those who went to their home countries were not allowed to come back to the United States. Moreover, Asian Indians were denied the right to American citizenship and this worsened the discrimination. In summary, racism and discrimination against Asian Indians was common during this period. Asian Indians had to move from town to town after being removed from their houses and workplaces by racist groups.

Question 2:

In the contemporary society, Asian Indians are viewed as part of the American culture. They have become part of the American culture as their populations have gradually increased over the years. The Asian Indians are organized in terms of their ethnic origins and it is common to find an entire a large group of Asian Indians living in the same area. Additionally, there are numerous support groups whose aim is to protect the Asian Indian population in the United States. However, issues of discrimination and stereotyping are still visible in how the American society views Asian Indians (Thernstrom 299). Racial discrimination cases are common especially in the work place but most cases go unreported. Hate crimes against Asian Indians in America are also common with people using different events as excuses to perpetrate criminal activity against them. Additionally, religious discrimination against Asian Indians is also common. The cultural diversity of Asian Indians is also seen in their population in the United States. The different groups have different customs, which they practice according to their culture. This diversity can also be seen in their impact on the American society.

The Asian Indian community in America has had a great impact on the contemporary society. The American people have adopted some of the cultural traditions related to Asian Indians. First, the professional impact of Asian Indian people on the American society is notable as there are numerous Asian Indian scholars, doctors, lawyers, among others in the United States economy (Frazier 316). Additionally, in the arts, people have adopted some of the Asian Indian music and dances and incorporated them into what is now called popular culture. The Asian Indian cuisine has also become part of the contemporary society’s diet with the establishment of restaurants that specialize in this food. In conclusion, the Asian Indian cultural group has developed greatly from what it was in 1920 to what it is in the modern American society.

Works Cited:

Dassanowsky, Robert and Jeffrey, Lehman. Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America. Boston: Cengage Gale. 2000. Print.

Frazier, John. Race, Ethnicity, and Place in a Changing America. Binghamton: Global Academic Publications, 2006.Print.

Thernstrom, Stephan. Harvard Encyclopedia of American ethnic groups. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980. Print.




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