Locating Asian-Indigenous Encounters in the Pacific Coast Salmon Canneries, 1870-1952


In the first half of the twentieth century, the canned salmon industry brought Asian migrants and Northwest Coast Native peoples together in fishing and canning spaces from Alaska to Washington. This thesis takes up various Asian-Indigenous encounters in the space of the salmon cannery, and asks how such a space of entangled settler colonialism and racial capitalism shaped possibilities for Asian-Indigenous solidarity. Combining government, industry, and union archives with oral histories, this thesis presents two case studies exploring different modes of relation between Asian and Native subjects in cannery spaces: 1) the clash between Seattle-based Filipino union organizers and the Sitka-based Alaska Native Brotherhood over the right to represent Alaska Native workers, and 2) interracial relationships in Washington State primarily between Filipino men and Coast Salish women. I argue that Asian and Native workers often contested individual components of settler colonial capitalism on a micro level when they asserted their own desires against those of hegemonic systems, but on a macro level, the conflicting interests between Indigenous and migrant communities in a settler colonial society acted as a buffer for larger structural change. Nevertheless, such modes of relation still included openings in which subjects may have envisioned or gestured towards shared Asian and Indigenous futures, even if such gestures were never fully realized.
Senior thesis (AB)--Brown University, 2020
Concentration: Ethnic Studies

Access Conditions

In Copyright
Restrictions on Use
All rights reserved. Collection is open for research.


Jiang, Jessica Sijia, "Locating Asian-Indigenous Encounters in the Pacific Coast Salmon Canneries, 1870-1952" (2020). American Studies Theses and Dissertations. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library. https://doi.org/10.26300/m58h-vp95