Chinese Immigrants Helped launch Oregon's Hop Industry
Oregon Humanities This Land essay explores the hidden history of Chinese farmers who helped establish Oregon’s reputation as an international beer capital
While Oregon is known for its craft beer, few people know the history of Chinese immigrants who farmed and harvested hops in the Willamette Valley in the early 1900s.
“White farmers desperate for field hands took to secretly contracting with Chinese hop pickers, even though the threat of Chinese workers being rounded up and run off the land became a relentless risk,” writes award-winning journalist Putsata Reang in a new online essay for Oregon Humanities. “The Chinese laborers, resolved to earn a living, took their chances.” Chinese farmers who didn’t face violence or outward discrimination were still prevented by state and federal laws, like Oregon’s Alien Land Act, from owning the land they worked.
Reang’s essay, “Bitter Harvest” is part of Oregon Humanities’ This Land project and is accompanied by a series of three short videos by filmmaker Ivy Lin about the history of hop farming and two Chinese farmers, Ming Kee and Ah Coe. Reang and Lin will be talking about this project on May 3, 2017, at a screening and panel discussion from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at McMenamins Kennedy School at 5736 NE 33rd Ave., in Portland.
This Land, an online multimedia project (oregonhumanities.org/this-land) produced by Oregon Humanities, collects and connects stories about land, home, belonging, and identity by Oregon’s communities of color. The project, which is made possible by the Creative Heights Initiative of the Oregon Community Foundation, uses film, words, maps, photos, sounds, and graphics by artists and writers of color to build a broader understanding of how policies and laws shape systems of power and land ownership in Oregon’s past and present.
More about the featured artists below:
Putsata Reang is an award-winning Cambodian American journalist and author, and a graduate of University of Oregon's School of Journalism. Her work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, the Guardian, and Mother Jones. She is currently at work on a memoir about her family's experience fleeing the genocide in Cambodia.
Ivy C. Lin is originally from Taipei, Taiwan. She became a Portlander in 2002 and has been telling Portland’s lesser-known stories through video since 2007. Ivy’s films have been screened at festivals throughout the Northwest, including “Beauty & the Sea,” which won Best Documentary Short at the Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival in 2015.