"A little kingdom of mixed nationalities" : race, ethnicity, and class in a western urban community--Rock Springs, Wyoming, 1869-1929
Draper, Timothy Dean
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In 1885, the mining settlement of Rock Springs, Wyoming, witnessed one of the worst episodes of ethnocentric violence in the urban West as Euroamerican miners massacred Chinese laborers and burned Chinatown to the ground. Less than four decades later, in 1926, inhabitants of Rock Springs, including immigrants and natives, Asian Americans and Euroamericans, came together at a time of heightened national ethnic tensions to celebrate the diversity of their municipal community in the first of four annual "International Night" festivals. This study explores the apparently dichotomous reality of Rock Springs from its establishment as a mining camp during the building of the Union Pacific Railroad in the late 1860s to the conclusion of the International Night movement in the mid- to late 1920s The focus of this dissertation centers upon the role of immigrants and their descendents in constructing diverse community networks and how they syncretized those varied networks into a unifying ethos of "municipal community," an identity expressed through their sense of ethno-racial boundaries, western heritage, inter-class cooperation, and negotiation with monopoly capitalism. By focusing on ethnicity, race, class, and region, I address how the inhabitants of Rock Springs negotiated the cultural and material challenges to construction of a community identity posed by a hegemonically inclined corporation, the Union Pacific Railway and its coal operations, and organized themselves into a community of publicly articulated common interests despite their culturally diverse group identities.