June 21-22, 2012
On May 25, 1887, as many as thirty-four Chinese gold miners were robbed and killed at Deep Creek on the Oregon side of Hells Canyon. Their bodies were thrown into the Snake River. While the names of only 12 are known, the rest died anonymously while working their claim. Today, the site of the massacre is officially designated Chinese Massacre Cove. In lives lost, the Hells Canyon massacre was one of the worst crimes committed by whites against the approximately 300,000 Chinese who immigrated to the United States during the latter half of the 19th century.
Chinese Remembering, now in its fifth year, remembers the history of that event and, specifically, the contributions of a little known ethnic group to the history of the region. The two-day conference is co-sponsored by the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood, Idaho and Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. The goals of the conference are to educate, to bring cultures together, and to explore and generate interest in the history and culture of the Chinese in Idaho and the Pacific Northwest.
“We cannot give the victims justice after so many years,” says Lyle Wirtanen who founded and directs the event with Garry Bush. “But we can honor their memory and celebrate the influence of the Chinese in Idaho.”
Thursday, June 21, will consist of lectures on tolerance and intolerance as well as the history of the Chinese in the Pacific Northwest. Greg Nokes, author of Massacred for Gold that details the latest research on the Deep Creek massacre, will be one of the speakers. Additional guest speakers from throughout the Northwest include Dr. Chuimei Ho and Dr. Bennet Bronson, Co-Directors of the Chinese in Northwest America Research Committee and Dr. Janis Johnson and Dr. Pricilla Wegars from the University of Idaho. Allen Pinkham, Nez Perce historian, will relate the connection between the Chinese and the Nez Perce. All lectures will take place at the Williams Conference Center at Lewis-Clark State College.
Friday, June 22, will involve a historically interpreted jet boat trip into Hells Canyon to sites once thought to have been occupied by Chinese. The highlight of the 2012 conference will be the dedication at Chinese Massacre Cove of a granite stone to serve as a memorial to the Chinese miners who lost their lives there. A simple healing ceremony with prayers by a Nez Perce elder and Taoist priest will be a part of the event.
Lyle Wirtanen, who is also the former director of the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude, has maintained a long-time interest in not only preserving history, but healing it. “In studying history, I have always been taken with the tragedies that result from segregation, the absence of civil rights and abuses to ethnic minorities. History is replete with them.”
His work as director of the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude also included three conferences focused on the Nez Perce 125 years after the War of 1877. “The Sisters supported the Nez Perce events and now Chinese Remembering because their whole mission is to bring healing and reconciliation to everybody.”
The cost to attend the Thursday lectures is $30 which includes a catered dinner in the evening. The Friday jet boat trip, limited to 128, costs $135. You can choose to attend one or both days but attendance at both days is recommended.
If you have questions or want further registration information please contact co-coordinators Lyle Wirtanen at (208) 816-8600 or Garry Bush at (208) 790-1257. You can also learn more and register online by visiting www.ChineseRemembering.org.
Chinese Remembering 2012 features the dedication of a memorial stone at Chinese Massacre Cove.