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When the Chinese were asked to help dig irrigation ditches in the 1850s in Genoa and Dayton, Nevada, no one imagined that they would constitute almost nine percent of the state’s population by 1880. Although many were attracted by mining prospects, the ability to own land, and work in railroad construction projects, they held a wide variety of jobs, including ranching, sheepherding, logging, medicine, merchandising, and gaming. Their restaurants and laundries could be found throughout the state. The children became acculturated because the state did not require them to attend segregated schools. Federal and state anti-Chinese legislation had a devastating effect upon the population after 1890, but the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943 and other immigration laws brought newcomers who added to the growth of Chinese Americans. The postwar period saw new opportunities opening up that allowed their leaders to be recognized for their contributions to their community and the state.
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About the Author
Sue Fawn Chung began teaching at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in 1975 after working as a child actress in Hollywood. She has been active in numerous organizations, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the state’s Board of Museums and History.