In the years from 1850 to 1890 Idaho's population landscape changed dramatically. Central and eastern Idaho were practically uninhabited in 1880; and the landscape was dominated by buffalo, antelope, deer, and elk grazing amongst the native grasses and sage. The wildlife became obscure in only three years; and was replaced by range cattle as the dominant species.
Fledgling settlements accumulated along railroad lines and major travel routes leading to an agricultural sprawl into the river valleys. This "last frontier" was settled by miners, ranchers, and farmers lured by rich mineral deposits and the chance to exploit free grass and free land. Settlement was encouraged federally by favorable land laws, irrigation capabilities and privately by addition of railroads, the invention of barbed wire, and production of cheap windmills in quantity. Furthermore, several years of above-average precipitation created bonanza farming making farmers artificially wealthy, and creating a false land rush. Thus, the juvenile Idaho Territory continued to attract new residents from many different countries and states. The vast majority were from the American Midwest and Plains states, but significant numbers also came from Europe, Asia, Mexico, and Canada.
The first people to live in Idaho were different Native Americans tribes. Approximately 12,000 Native Americans lived in Idaho during 1990 represented by the: Shoshone, Bannock, Coeur DAlene, Nez Perce, Paiute, Kalispel, Kootenai and others. That is nearly the same number present when Lewis and Clark passed through the region during 1805-1806.
Idaho's Native Peoples retained their distinctive cultures, languages and traditions through the decades following the initial contact with white people. The Native Americans still cherish a respectful attitude toward the land and maintain many of their traditions, despite the historical efforts of a dominant white society to assimilate them to Christianity and European culture. The Native American response to white occupation corresponded to the changing face of American policy.
GO TO Native Americans in Idaho to learn more about Idaho's Native Peoples.
ALSO VISIT a web site about Lewis & Clark
The first ethnic group to follow Indians in settling present-day Idaho were French Canadians.
Several, including the husband of Sacajawea, were in the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery. Others were fur traders with the North West Company and Hudson's Bay Company who remained in the area when the two companies consolidated. Among these were Michel Bourdon, who came with David Thompson in 1808, and Francois Payette, who traveled with John Jacob Astor's company and later was postmaster at Hudson's Bay Company's post at Fort Boise. French Canadians also found representation as Catholic priests. Andre Zapherin, for example, was assigned to Boise Basin and Alex J. Archambault to Idaho City and other mining and farming camps in the region. The impact of French Canadians is clear from many Idaho names: Coeur d'Alene, Pend Oreille, Nez Perce, and Payette River. Godin Valley in Custer County was named for French Canadian (actually an Iroquois) Thyery (Henry) Godin, who explored the country with Donald Mackenzie in 1820 and named the river and mountains after himself The river was later renamed Lost River. Pattee Creek in Lemhi County recognized Joseph B. Pattee, who came into the area as an employee of the American Fur Company and later settled on land at the mouth of the stream.
Many French Canadians joined the rush to Boise Basin with the mining boom of the 1860s. One of these was Joseph Perrault, from Montreal, who went to California, Walla Walla, Lewiston, and finally to Boise, where he became assistant editor and part owner of the Statesman. Lafayette Cartee built the first sawmill and quartz mill at Rocky Bar, moved with his family to Boise in 1866, and was appointed the first surveyor general of Idaho Territory.
French Canadians homesteaded land throughout the region. Frenchman's Island in Minidoka County was named for two French Canadians who filed a claim on the island. One of them ran a ferry across the Snake called "Frenchman's Ferry." A group of Quebec and Montreal natives moved to the Deer Flat area south of Nampa in 1903 and established a barber shop, bakery, carpenter shop, and farms. At the 1980 reunion of descendants of the original French Canadian settlers held at Saint Paul's Church and Lakeview Park in Nampa, the crowd numbered more than 300.
The north Idaho community of Colbum, nine miles north of Sandpoint, was named in Anglicized form for John Courberon, a French Canadian who worked for the Great Northern Railroad. From St. John the Baptist, Quebec, five of the thirteen children of the Poirier family moved into north Idaho and made it their home. A cove, falls, creek, and dam bear the name of Albeni Poirier. Beginning in 1883, he and a brother ran a cattle ranch in Spirit Valley. Later, the brothers built a road from Rathdrum to Albeni Falls, and the site became the headquarters for navigation of Priest River. Albeni Poirier built a small hotel, boarding house, and saloon just below the dam located there. The Poirier family now operates a museum that traces the history of the Blanchard community and the family farm. In 1910, Idaho counties included 202 French Canadians in Kootenai, 115 in Shoshone, and 140 in Bonner. Other populations were in the lumbering counties of Latah, Nez Perce, Boundary, and Benewah.
The British had, of course, been in the Oregon country with the fur trade. They had explored the land, named geographic features, directed international attention to the region, operated trading posts at Fort Hall and Fort Boise, and indirectly paved the way for subsequent American settlement.
Most of the large percentage of British migrants to Idaho, mirroring mainstream American society, assimilated. They did not retain ethnic enclaves, were not subjected to the job discrimination that others experienced, and were sometimes referred to as "invisible immigrants." The three exceptions were the Cornish, Welsh, and Irish. The Cornish came in comparatively large numbers to work in the mines and concentrated in the Silver Valley and the Owyhee. The Welsh came directly from their homeland or indirectly through Utah in the 1860s and 1870s. The Irish worked in Idaho mining camps, some as prospectors, others as shoemakers, grocers, saloonkeepers, butchers, and livery operators.
The discovery of gold in Idaho during the 1860s coincided with a depression in the mines in Cornwall, and hence many of the miners were attracted to Idaho. They were often referred to as "Cousin Jack", a complimentary nickname that suggested they had a cousin back home ideal for a vacant mining job. Most of them, however, stayed in the United States and sent for their families.
Because of their experience and their strong sense of family and social stability, the influence of the Cornish in mining camps was often out of proportion to their numbers. Many of them were Methodist, and they filled in as lay preachers when formally trained ministers were not available. One of the ministers was John Andrewartha, who served in Rocky Bar and Atlanta. They refused to work on Sunday, formed church choirs and brass bands, and sponsored such recreational activities as wrestling matches. They also favored their own foods-meat and vegetables wrapped in pie crust, called "pasties". Some of the men rose to political prominence, such as legislators Richard Tregaskis and Luke Williams.
The Welsh who were not Mormons were dominant in mining areas in north Idaho. Wardner, the first mining town in the Bunker Hill region, was made up mostly of Welsh miners who had worked the Cornwall tin mines. They later moved to Kellogg. Most were single men, lived in boarding houses, and were sometimes the butt of jokes by other miners because of their difficulties with the English language. A group of Welsh and Cornish miners from Butte worked in the mines at Gibbonsville in Lemhi County during the peak mining years of 1880 to 1906. A few Welsh also settled in American Falls, one of whose children was blue-eyed, red-haired David Davis, elected governor of Idaho in 1919.
The Irish sometimes favored settling together because of the strong anti-Catholic sentiment among Americans. In his statistical study of Idaho mining camps in 1870 and 1880, Elliott West discovered that one in four miners and one in four of the skilled persons in mining towns were Irish. Most were males; in Boise County, for example, Irish men outnumbered women 285 to 37.
Half the miners in the Wood River area in the 1880s were also Irish, and they likewise comprised a substantial proportion of the military in territorial Idaho. These Irish also contributed individually. Robert Dempsey, a glassblower in Ireland before he came to Idaho, mined, worked as an Indian interpreter, and established a trading post near Blackfoot on the Snake River. He founded the town of Dempsey, which later became Lava Hot Springs. Another early resident was an Irishman named Murphy who built a toll gate and charged a fee for using his private road near the present town of McCammon.
Irish women also were enterprising. Anna, Margaret, and Mary O'Gara, sisters from County Cork, operated a rooming house and restaurants catering to timber workers in St. Maries. Witty, amiable, and "respectable", the O'Garas did not hesitate to do a little bootlegging on the side. As Ruby El Hult reported, once when officers raided their place, Margaret "poured her whiskey into a clean and sterile chamber pot and placed it under the bed. The officers found it but did not recognize its contents as whiskey." During another raid Margaret "brought her small whiskey keg into the kitchen and spread her voluminous skirts around it. There she stood adamant while officers searched the quarters."
As part of labor-union activity, which they sometimes dominated, the Irish were highly visible in activities on St. Patrick's Day. Fenian Clubs, Irish Clubs, the O'Conner School of Dancers, and other such organizations allowed immigrants from the Emerald Isle to continue to celebrate their own culture and history.
The next national group to come to Idaho in force were the Chinese.
Many Chinese fortune seekers followed the gold boom to Idaho in the 1860s. By 1870 there were 4,274 in Idaho, more than one fourth of all the people in the territory. That year, approximately 60 percent of all Idaho miners were Chinese. They were also packers, cooks, domestics, merchants, doctors, launderers, and gardeners. A typical population is shown in the example of the mining town of Pierce, Idaho. Of the 445 Chinese men and 8 Chinese women living in Pierce in 1870 the average age was approximately thirty-two years; one to eleven people lived together in households. The group consisted of 411 miners, 14 gamblers, 3 hotel cooks, 3 blacksmiths, 3 gardeners, 2 laundryman, and 1 each as trader, hotel keeper, merchant, hotel waiter, barber, doctor, and Chinese agent.
Substantial numbers of Chinese worked in all Idaho mining districts, not only in the 1860s but also in the 1870s and 1880s. Many "celestials" grew fruits and vegetables for mining camps, hauling them in two large hemp baskets equally balanced on either side of a heavy, wooden shoulder yoke, or in a wooden vegetable cart. Several communities boasted Chinese gardens. The community known today as Garden City was so named in honor of the Chinese who lived and worked there. In Lewiston, Boise, St. Maries, and elsewhere Idahoans were eating Chinese food well before the East or Midwest acquired a taste for it. C. K. Ah-Fong of Boise was a well-known herb doctor, duly licensed by the territory.
Some 4,000 Chinese worked on the construction of the Northern Pacific Railway; others worked on the Oregon Short Line, Great Northern, and Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul and their branches. They also helped build the railroad and bridge at American Falls and worked in the railroad shops at Eagle Rock and Pocatello.
The number of Chinese in Idaho declined after 1870. There were 3,379 in Idaho in 1880; 2,500 in 1890; and 1,500 in 1900. Part of the reason for this decline was the anti-Chinese sentiment of the 1880s. In 1890 the Idaho legislature barred Chinese or "Mongolians" from holding mining lands. In 1897 the legislature restricted them from any mining activity. They suffered from several savage attacks; dozens were killed in prejudicial violence. Their religions, customs, clothes, burials, manners, queues of hair, insistence that their bones be transported back to China-all were ridiculed. The Chinese population declined everywhere except Boise, which was known as Cowrie City, the central Chinese community. Boise's Chinatown was first located on Idaho Street between 6th and 8th streets. About 1900 city authorities demanded that it be moved to 7th and Front streets, where it remained for the next seventy years.
After World War II the American attitude toward Chinese changed. As allies in the war they were viewed positively. Those born in the United States saw themselves as American citizens and worked to bring family members from the old country. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was repealed in 1943, making naturalization possible. Nevertheless, ldaho's Chinese population remains small. In 1980 only 625 people in the state claimed Chinese ancestry. They still have the traditional Chinese New Year, which is celebrated throughout the day and night with firecrackers, roast-pig dinners, Chinese and American candies, and special Chinese whistles. Paper dragons are popular in city and national parades, and Chinese paper lanterns adorn local festivities.
An extended essay on the Mormons in The Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups written by Dean May, a historian formerly of Middleton, Idaho, suggests that the Mormons have always regarded themselves as a people in the same sense that Jews, blacks, Hispanics, and Basques are considered a distinct people.
The case for understanding Mormons as an ethno-religious people rather than simply as another religious group rests on many considerations. Mormons have (or at least used to have) a distinctive vocabulary, shared history, unique theological beliefs, definite in-group boundaries (prohibitions on the use of alcohol, tobacco, tea, and coffee), emphasis on in-group marriage, and a strong sense of peoplehood, which includes the "brother" and "sister" terminology. Mormons' block settlement, their modified self-sufficient economy, their gradual identification with Idaho, and their rural-urban transition all parallel the experience of many other ethnic groups in Idaho. Their agricultural skills, English-language background, and knowledge of western culture made their transition easier than that of many others, but the broad process of adjustment and accommodation was similar to other ethnic groups. Like others described in this chapter, the Mormons were gradually accepted into the larger society because of their economic contribution, their growing political power, and their own accommodation to the underlying values of the dominant society.
Mormons who settled in Idaho were, in approximately equal numbers, British, Scandinavians, and Americans. A substantial number of the British were Welsh, who settled in the Malad Valley and Bear Lake Valley. Many of the Welsh spoke Cymric, were clannish, and expressed their fierce nationality in their music, poetry, and the perpetuation of their language and national customs. They celebrated Saint David's Day (first two days of March); held "eisteddfods" for the development of their literary, theatrical, and musical abilities; and organized Cambrian societies. Census figures of Malad Valley showed 400 Welsh in 1890. The people were zealous Mormon converts, and one reason is that their religion helped them preserve their language and customs. Mormon scriptures were published in Cymric, and Mormon communities vied for Welsh settlers because this would assure, or so they believed, good singers for the choir. The person who gave the Mormon Tabernacle Choir national status was Evan Stephens, a Welshman whose family settled in St. John, just north of Malad. That singing tradition continued; the Welsh chorus from Malad was invited to sing at the two inaugurations of Governor John V. Evans, of Welsh Mormon heritage, in Boise.
Another large group of Mormon settlers in Idaho were Scandinavians. Some came directly from Sweden, Norway, and Denmark; others went to Utah in the 1850s and 1860s, worked on the Utah and Northern Railway, and then relocated in the upper Snake River area. Scandinavians represented about one third of all the Mormons who settled in Idaho in the last third of the nineteenth century. Scandinavians from Utah's Brigham City and Hyrum established St. Charles and Ovid in Bear Lake Valley in 1864, Mink Creek in 1871, Weston in 1875, and Driggs in the 1880s. Mormon Danes were located in Oneida, Bingham, and Bear Lake counties. They were farmers, stockmen, craftsmen, or worked for ranchers, the railroad, and the U & I Sugar Company. They were good builders of homes, business establishments, flour mills, bakeries, and power plants.
Many of the Scandinavians brought with them a folk tradition of celebrating May Day Eve with bonfires, merrymaking, group singing, and speech-making, followed the next day by a colorful Maypole dance and feast. The children might pick spring flowers and fill May baskets and place them on the steps of friends' and neighbors' homes. In some communities attention was paid to Midsummer Day, "Midsommarfest" (June 24), a celebration of the summer solstice-the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere-that dates back to pre-Christian times. It was a time for visiting friends and relatives, enjoying traditional foods, wearing traditional costumes, singing folk songs, and performing folk dances. There were picnics, parades, and pageants. In some communities this holiday was postponed and celebrated in connection with Mormon Pioneer Day on July 24; in others, Midsummer and May Day Eve were celebrated together. In still others the celebrations were scheduled on June 14, the day the Mormon mission opened in Scandinavia in 1850. Scandinavians enjoyed dances, music festivals, and theatrical performances throughout the year and had a salutary influence on the communities in which they settled.
The minutes of meetings of Mormon men and women in these ethnic villages where Danish, Norwegian, or Swedish was still the predominant languages are fascinating reading, weaving, as some of them did, a mixture of English and Danish, Norwegian, or Swedish
A third important group of Mormons were the Swiss, who settled villages in the Bear Lake Valley (including Bern and Geneva) in the 1860s and 1870s. Farmers and stockmen, they accumulated large cattle herds, made Swiss cheese and butter, held Swiss Days, and continued to maintain their traditions and customs. Most of Idaho's Swiss settlers were Mormons. There were 249 Swiss natives in Bear Lake County in 1890, 362 in 1900. There were also 219 Swiss in Fremont County in 1910
Bern was founded by John Kunz in 1873 when he was called by Brigham Young to raise cattle and make cheese for the local settlers and for export to Salt Lake City. Geneva was founded by Henry Touvscher in 1879. Both towns enjoyed Swiss yodeling, sauerkraut parties, and competition in handcrafted articles.
Like the Mormon Scandinavians, their fellow nationals of other faiths also adapted well to the Idaho settlement process.
In 1900 Scandinavians constituted approximately one-fourth of the total foreign-born in Idaho. They included not only Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes but Finns as well. Finnish immigrants came in smaller numbers than the other three but were nevertheless an important segment.
Most non-Mormon Scandinavians had migrated first to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, where they worked in the forests, before moving on to north Idaho to become loggers. Some worked in north Idaho mines during World War I, settling in Coeur d'Alene, Wallace, Potlatch, Moscow, Bonners Ferry, Sandpoint, and Troy. Maintaining cultural ties for many years, they sponsored group excursions, held midsummer festivals, and organized ethnic clubs. Norwegians celebrated Norwegian Independence Day (May 17); Swedes celebrated Walpurgis Night or Spring Festival (April 30) with singing, folk dancing, bonfires, and Swedish-style refreshments. Some communities included both of the two denominational Lutheran churches.
New Sweden, west of Idaho Falls, was a result of the formation of the Great Western Land Company, which constructed the Great Western and Porter irrigation canals in 1895. The settlers built a Lutheran church and large barns even before they finished their houses. By 1919 about 12,000 acres had been cleared and a system of dams and reservoirs established, and settlers filled up the area. The New Sweden Pioneer Association was formed to "keep alive the old memories of pioneer days" and to operate the New Sweden School." Residents celebrated occasionally with potluck picnics, Swedish accordion music, square dances, horse-drawn wagon rides for children, a midsummer pole raising, and folk music.
Other communities of non-Mormon Swedes were in Firth, Minidoka County, and Nampa. Swedish children in Minidoka sometimes complained that other children laughed at their Swedish dialect, clothing, and food; their parents laughed right back at the Missouri dialect, Ozark dress, and cornpone and chittlins of their southern neighbors. Among the traditional foods of the Minidoka Swedes were clobbered milk; "valling," a dish made from potato starch with nuts and raisins; fruit cornpotes; "sill" or salt herring; head cheese; "kalvost" or milk pudding; and "skorpor," a rusk (sweet raised bread dried and cooked again in the oven). The large Swedish community around Nampa had gone first to Illinois and then moved to Canyon County. They also had an active Scandinavian Society.
Most Finnish immigrants came to Idaho between 1890 and 1920, the majority of them settling in Silver Valley in north Idaho and in Long Valley in central Idaho; most of those in north Idaho were miners from Minnesota and Wisconsin. Because Finnish is not a Germanic-based language, as is English, the Finns had difficulty learning English. Politically active, the north Idaho Finns constructed six workers' halls within a forty-mile radius of each other but built no church. In Enaville, their chief center, they held workers' meetings and performed monthly amateur plays sometimes infiltrated with socialist doctrine. Many of them sympathized with the Industrial Workers of the World. There were dances at the halls, weddings, basket socials, and dramas. They organized athletic teams and held track meets in which only Finns participated. Once, when loggers were moving logs down the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River, a group of Finnish women came to loudly protest their use of dynamite-it scared the setting hens off their nests and killed the embryos in the eggs.
The Long Valley Finns, primarily at Elo and Roseberry in present-day Valley County near McCall, were farmers and loggers. The first Finnish immigrants arrived in Long Valley in the 1890's. They came from eastern Oregon where they had tried homesteading. Long Valley with its forests, mountains and green meadows appealed to them more than the Oregon desert country. Most of the Finns came to Long Valley between 1900 and 1925. Many came directly from the coal mines in Wyoming and by 1905 about 40% of Long Valley's population was Finnish. Most of the later wave of Finnish settlers took up homesteads in upper Long Valley on the east side.
The Finnish men were noted for their skills in woodworking and log construction. They built many sturdy log houses, saunas and farm buildings in Long Valley. Some of these buildings are 70 - 80 years old and still in use today. Many Finnish women wove rag rugs for their houses on homemade looms. Some of their other homestead chores included baking their famous Finn bread and raising a garden. Before doctors came to the Valley some of the Finnish women were the area's only midwives.
A well-known Finnish cultural artifact was the sauna, which contained two rooms, a dressing room, and a steam room with a wood-burning stove. Several apple-sized rocks were heated on the top of the stove with a water barrel nearby. Tiered benches were built around the wall, and the hardiest bathers sat on the highest bench where the temperature was hottest. The men often hit themselves with branches to stimulate their circulation. After sufficient steaming, they raced out and dove into a nearby lake or river to cool off. Saunas were heated Saturday nights. When the men had finished and the temperature had cooled somewhat, women used the sauna. Another Finnish custom was celebrating "Juhannus", or St. John's Day, on June 24 (the equivalent of the midsummer festival), commemorating the return of summer. An all-day picnic included music, footraces, speeches, and food and drink. The community band played, a church choir sang, and the children recited verses. The Finns in north and central Idaho knew or soon learned how to ski. They fashioned their skis from red pine and old leather harness straps.
The largest Finnish community, Elo, was on the Elo Road southeast of present-day McCall. Named for its religious leader and teacher, Rev. John Eloheimo, Elo had a store, post office, school and a meeting hall. Many of Elo's Finns were Lutherans. In 1917 they built the Finn Church located on the Farm-To-Market Road about five miles north of Roseberry and the Valley County Museum. It is one of the best preserved buildings erected in that early pioneer era.
In the late 1880's, settlers, most from Missouri, began arriving in Long Valley, lured by the lush and fertile grasslands which were being offered free to homesteaders by the U. S. Government. By 1890 a small community began to grow up around a post office-store near the center of the valley. It was named after the first postmaster, Lewis R. Roseberry. The post office was soon acquired by H.T. Boydstun who, with a group of investors, platted out the town site and began selling lots. By 1905 Roseberry flourished as the trading center of the area and boasted several businesses.
Officially incorporated in 1907, Roseberry was vigorously promoted by its founders through its energetic Commercial Club. By 1910 the town had two churches, a grade and high school, a telephone exchange, bank, hotel, livery stable, newspaper office, a dry-goods store, and other businesses along with several residences. The town had become the largest community in the valley and was considered the obvious site for the county seat of the soon to be created Valley County. But Roseberry's fame and fortunes were soon to change.
In 1914 disaster struck. A long and hard fought battle to bring the proposed Long Valley Railroad spur through Roseberry was lost. The Railroad decided to locate its line one and a half miles to the west, and establish a new town site called Donnelly. Investors soon turned their attention to the railway and the new town. Many buildings and businesses that were once the backbone of Roseberry were literally picked up in whole or in pieces and moved via horse and wagon or sledges to Donnelly. The last commercial establishment closed when the McDougal store held a public auction in 1939. A few people still lived in Roseberry at that time. The grade school and high school were moved to new buildings in Donnelly. The last school class held in Roseberry was 1959 when the grade school reopened briefly for 7th-8th grades, but then its bells fell silent and in a few short years the white pine boards were removed to build yet another Donnelly structure.
The vision to revive Roseberry as a historic site began in earnest when the Long Valley Preservation Society was organized in 1973. One of the goals of the Society is to acquire and preserve as many early Long Valley buildings as possible in a town setting located on the original Rose-berry town site. Some of the buildings you will see on the walking tour were part of the original town. Others have been brought in from other locations in the valley.
The Long Valley Preservation Society members are working hard to restore and preserve the buildings in the museum complex. The Society plans to acquire additional buildings and create the atmosphere of early Roseberry.
The Germanic peoples who came to Idaho were from Holland, Prussia, various states of southern and western Germany, diverse sections of the Austrian Empire, Switzerland, and the Volga and Black Sea areas of Russia where Germans had moved generations earlier yet retained their identity.
There are problems in categorizing these people because "Germans", of whom 5,221 were listed in the 1910 census, might have been listed separately in the census under Russians, Prussians, Austrians, or Dutch (often confused with Deutsch, which is the German word for "German"). Many of Idaho's foreign-born Germans came from the Midwest rather than directly from Europe; the peak year of German immigration to the United States was 1882. Many of them fled their homeland to avoid lifetime military conscription.
Germanic people began coming to Idaho Territory in the 1860s as miners, investors, assayers, brewers, and bakers. In the 1880s other Germans joined the rush to Coeur d'Alene and nearby districts. Still others arrived when Indian reservation land was opened for settlement around the turn of the century. Groups of Germans worked in mines and on farms in Bonners Ferry around 1900; others maintained a German Methodist Church at Rathdrum. Post Falls, in Kootenai County, was named in honor of Frederick Post of Herburn, Germany, who moved to north Idaho in 1871. Frank Bruegeman, who lived in the Cottonwood area of Camas Prairie, wrote to a German language newspaper in the Midwest and recruited a group of Germans from Illinois, who settled the town of Keuterville and built a Catholic church there. Others who settled around Cottonwood also built a Catholic church and parochial school. Another company of Germans formed the neighboring town of Greencreek, named after Greencreek, Illinois, from which they came. With so many German Catholics in the vicinity, they persuaded the Benedictine order to establish a convent, the Priory of St. Gertrude. Farther north, German Lutherans settled around Leland and Kendrick, and in their communities in Juliaetta and Cameron they built two churches.
A small community of Germans from a drought-stricken area of Kansas settled Council Valley; others went to Minidoka County; still others to St. Maries and Moscow. There were Mormon Germans around Blackfoot, Rexburg, Iona, Soda Springs, the Bear Lake Valley, and Teton County. Russian Germans settled as groups in the Aberdeen (Mennonites), Dubois, and Tabor areas in eastern Idaho. Another group of German Russians was in American Falls, where Lutheran and German Congregational churches were built.
Germans were also early settlers of Boise, where there were 1,000 in 1900 and 6,000 in 1910-approximately 10 percent of the population. The young men organized a Turnverein, a club dedicated to physical fitness and patriotism. They sponsored picnics, gymnastic exhibitions, singing, and dancing. In 1904 the German-American architect Charles Hummel built a Turnverein Hall in Boise with a stage, a 400-seat auditorium with a 200-seat balcony, and an exercise area in the basement. The hall was sold in 1916 when Germans and their organizations became objects of suspicion during World War I.
The Germans made important contributions to Idaho music. Nearly every small town had a brass band. Towns with a substantial number of Germans celebrated Oktoberfest, the Feast of St. Nicholas, and May Day. During the 1930s an elite group of Germans and Austrians came to Idaho to teach skiing at Sun Valley Resort. As a result, German and Austrian folk-music festivals, decorations, food, and chalet architecture became prominent in the area.
In addition to Germans and Austrians, there were three unique Dutch communities in Idaho. One, founded in 1908, was on the Camas Prairie in Idaho County where the Dutch established Christian Reformed and Dutch Reformed churches in Grangeville. Some of these settlers moved to the Salmon Tract in south Idaho and founded the town of Appledorn, later changed to Amsterdam. They built a Dutch Reformed Church and parsonage. Although many later left for other settlements, enough Holland Americans remained to maintain its ethnic character. A third Dutch settlement is much more recent. It began in the 1970s when a group of Dutch dairymen left California and relocated in the Jerome-Gooding area where they continued their dairy product operations. Their Dutch Reformed church serves about too families around Jerome, Buhl, and Twin Falls.
Belgian, Luxembourg, and French immigrants have established no ethnic communities. A non-Mormon Swiss group settled Island Park in Fremont County in the 1880s. Although the company that attracted them, the Arangee Land and Cattle Company, went broke in 1898, many of the Swiss remained as homesteaders and ranchers. After World War I a group of about 120 Czechs moved to Castleford, in Twin Falls County, where they maintained cultural traditions through lodges and community celebrations. Senators William E. Borah and Henry Dworshak, although not of this community, were of Czech origin.
Italians came to Idaho, mostly during the years 1890 to 1920, to mine, farm, ranch, construct railroads, and start businesses.
In 1910, 2,627 Italians in Idaho lived in enclaves in Kellogg and Wallace, Bonners Ferry, Naples, Lava Hot Springs, Roston in Minidoka County, and Mullan and east of Priest River. The largest concentration was in Pocatello, where as many as 400 families were supported by railroad jobs. Almost half of these left after workers lost a nationwide railroad strike in 1922.
With 1,860 Greeks working on railroad construction, about 40 percent of the total railroad work force in Idaho in 1910 consisted of Italian and Greek immigrants. Many of the Greeks, who lived where rail-line activity was busiest, also left the state in 1922 as the result of the strike. Most of the Greeks and Italians lived in the railroad center of Pocatello, although there were pockets in Boise, St. Maries, Potlatch, Sandpoint, Orofino, Wallace, and Rupert. In addition to railroads, they worked in sawmills and mines and opened small businesses such as shoe repair shops, restaurants, and saloons. The Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches played a central role in fostering an ethnic consciousness among the state's Italian and Greek citizens.
There were also Portuguese, mostly from the Azores, and some Syrians and Lebanese, particularly in Gooding County. The Basques, who are from northern Spain and southern France, are discussed below.
The people who call themselves "Euskaidunak" or "speakers and lovers of the Basque language" are perhaps the most well-known of all of Idaho's European ethnics." The Idaho Basques came from the Pyrenees in north-central Spain, mostly from farms and villages within a twenty-mile radius of the Basque capital of Guernica.
Beginning about 1895 and continuing for another fifty years, they worked as sheepherders, ranch hands, and sheep shearers. Their life was lonely and isolated, something to which the gregarious and community-oriented Basques were not accustomed.
The Basque sheepherds often took part of their wages in ewes that they ran alongside those of their employer. Once their own flocks were substantial, they broke away, seeking their own range by leasing from private landowners or moving onto unclaimed rangeland. Thus Basque-owned sheep outfits spread throughout southwestern Idaho. Most made certain their children received an education to obtain different work. Not many second-generation Basques are sheepherders.
Most Basques coming to Idaho were single, expecting to earn and save money and return home. But many remained, sent for families, and established ethnic centers in several Idaho communities. Boise was the center of Basque settlement in southwestern Idaho, and the southeastern section of the city's downtown came to be dotted with boarding houses and pelota courts. A Basque priest served the people's needs beginning in 1911, and the parish established the Church of the Good Shepherd in 1918. The enclave started to decline in 1920 as more Basques became "Americanized" and settled in other parts of the city. They abandoned their separate church and reaffiliated with other Catholics. Nevertheless, Boise still remains an important center for Basque life and culture and, drawing from smaller Basque communities in Mountain Home, Nampa, Hagerman,
Twin Falls, Shoshone, and Hailey, boasts the largest concentration of Basques outside Europe.
Basques have contributed color and variety to Idaho life in the continued existence of Basque hotels and boarding houses that feature delectable ethnic cuisine and informal, family-style atmospheres. The Basque boardinghouse was an important home away from home for Basque herders, and the women cooks and helpers treated all the men as sons or brothers. Towns like Shoshone had half a dozen such boardinghouses in the 1930s and 1940s. At Basque festivals, held annually in Boise, Mountain Home, and Shoshone, hundreds of spectators are treated to Basque cooking, athletic events (stone-lifting and wood chopping), and folk dancing. A Basque Museum and Cultural Center in Boise preserves artifacts, books, music, and other elements of Basque history to acquaint Idahoans and other visitors with their heritage. The Oinkari Basque Dancers have performed throughout Idaho and in festivals and tours throughout the nation.
Jews are considered to be a separate culture even though they may be from many nations and cultures. In relation to the majority of the populace in the countries where they have lived, Jews have been treated as a distinct people. That ethnicity results from their religion as they believe to have originated from the same ancient ancestor unless they are converts.
A few Jews, mostly single young men who were born in Germany (which included parts of Poland, Austria, and Hungary), spent a few years in the East and then ventured to Idaho in the 1860s and 1870s. Coming as peddlers, small traders, and wage earners, they quickly learned English, opened stores, and rose rapidly out of poverty. Others started in business as "sutlers"(a civilian merchant who sells provisions to an army in the field) for the U.S. Army.
Larger numbers, mostly from Central and Eastern Europe, entered the territory and state between 1881 and 1919. They spoke Yiddish, shared a common European culture, and practiced a more conservative form of Judaism than did their German predecessors. As they settled in the Boise and Pocatello areas, their large numbers made possible a group ethnic identity.
Most of the Jews from Eastern Europe remained orthodox, obeyed dietary laws and laws of ritual and ceremony in their religious and personal lives, and held religious services in Hebrew. Members of other sects came to the United States from Western Europe and brought a more liberal form of Judaism. Services were conducted in English, and they more easily acculturated to American society. As East Europeans made adaptations and adjustments to American life, in religion as in other aspects of life, they established conservative congregations that were similar to the more westernized groups; both groups represented an Americanization of Judaism. Whatever the form of their religion, Idaho's Jews celebrated such festivals as the Feast of the Booths, Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights, Passover, and such High Holy Days as Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashannah.
Among the early Jewish residents of Idaho was Robert Grostein, born in what later became Poland, who came to America at age four, went to California when he was nineteen, and in 1862 joined the rush of miners to Idaho and opened a store in Lewiston. For thirty-three years Grostein and his partner and brother-in-law Abraham Binnard, who joined him in 1865, ran a profitable business. Grostein built several public buildings and "one of the finest residences" in the city, owned 3,500 acres of farmland, and operated a branch store in Warren that he supplied by using his 200 pack mules. Louis Grostein, Robert's younger brother, operated stores in Elk City, Warren, and Lewiston. Robert Grostein's daughter Leah Grostein was the first Jewish woman to be born and married in Idaho Territory. Leah married Aaron Kuhn of Colfax, Washington Territory in 1884. Aaron, who was a German Jewish immigrant, became the President of the Spokane & Eastern Trust Company, which was eventually acquired by Seafirst, and then Bank of America. The Grostein and Binnard families comprise the enitre Jewish section of Normal Hill Cemetery in Lewiston, Idaho, the oldest cemetery in the city.
Joseph Alexander left Adelsheim, Germany, at age sixteen, worked in New York until he learned English, and in the 1860s moved to the Idaho gold fields and opened retail businesses in Lewiston, Genesee, and Grangeville. His partner was Aaron Freidenrich, who was born in Bavaria and went to Lewiston in 1868. He later opened a general store in Florence, then Warrens, and then moved to Grangeville.
David and Nathan Falk, brothers, were born in Eggenhausen, Bavaria. They came to the United States while still teenagers. In 1866 Nathan moved to Boise and worked as a bookkeeper for his brother, who had gone to Boise in 1864. In 1868 the two opened their own general store and five years later expanded to include a third brother, Sigmund.
Alexander Rossi was born in Zybrechken on the Rhine, came to the United States at age eighteen, worked in New York three years, joined the California gold rush in 1849, later went to Oregon City, and then in 1861 moved on to Lewiston. He went the next year to Idaho City, where he engaged in the lumber business and operated an assay office. In 1865 he relocated in Boise and built that city's first sawmill with his partner Albert H. Robie, from Lewiston. Rossi headed the construction of the Ridenbaugh Canal, was the first assayer in charge of the Boise City Assay Office, and did survey work in Idaho and Oregon.
Later comers included Simon Friedman, a German native, who moved to the Wood River gold and silver district in 1881, opened a general store, and invested in mining property. Another was Nate Block, who was born in Omelno, Russia, came to the United States when he was twenty-two, and moved to Pocatello, where he operated a clothing store.
Perhaps the most prominent immigrant was Moses Alexander, who came to Boise in 1891 and was later elected governor. We, have described him briefly in Chapter Twenty. His election as governor in 1914 was astonishing to the Jews since there were not more than 250 voting Jews in the state. But a survey of Boise newspapers reveals that Jewish merchants were regarded as pillars of the community, and their comings and goings were reported as regularly as those of other prominent citizens.
In 1895, at Alexander's suggestion, Boise Jews incorporated under the name Congregation Beth Israel. A temple was dedicated in 1896, with David Falk presiding over the services. It is the oldest synagogue in continuous use west of the Mississippi. By 1912 there were enough orthodox Jews in Boise to organize Congregation Ahavath Israel, which built a synagogue in 1949. In 1990 the various groups merged.
Pocatello, a younger community than Boise, established a congregation about the time of World War I, a B'nai B'rith Lodge in 1923, and its first synagogue in 1947. In 1961 Temple Emanuel was built. Eli M. Oboler described Pocatello Judaism as "Conformoxaho," meaning part Conservative, part Reform, part Orthodox, and a lot Idaho.
The first generation of Japanese immigrants made Idaho their home in the 1880s.
During the course of their lives in Idaho the Japanese lifted themselves, through back-breaking work, from the migrant laborers who followed the railroad and agricultural circuit to become successful merchants, tenant farmers, and other business people.
Most of the early Japanese migrants came from Hawaii, where they had contracted to work on sugar plantations. Many came with wives and families, and others sent for brides as soon as they could settle down. Most of the immigrants paid for their passage and had more money in their pockets than the average European immigrant. Japanese society thus took on an air of permanence unlike that of many other immigrants, even though the Issei, those born in Japan, could not own land or become American citizens.
The Japanese were not always welcomed. The Idaho Daily Statesman carried articles in 1892 supporting Mountain Home, Nampa, and Caldwell residents who had ordered "Japs" to keep out of the state. Japanese immigration was, in fact, barred from the United States from 1924 to 1942. However, Japanese immigration had lasted for more than forty years (1882-1924), during which time the Issei could establish themselves, summon their families, teach their children Japanese traditions, and at the same time encourage their acculturation. Issei could not buy land, but they could and did lease it until 1923, when Idaho passed an act prohibiting Japanese from securing property. (The act remained on the books in Idaho until 1955.) Bonneville County had from 200 to 250 Japanese throughout 1900, 1901, 1920, and 1930. By 1980 there were 2,066 persons claiming Japanese ancestry in Idaho.
When the Oregon Short Line began construction in 1882, recruiters were sent to California and Hawaii. Within two years 1,000 Japanese men were working on the line, and by 1892 there were about 3,500. Japanese labor camps sprang up along the line through south Idaho, with shop headquarters in Nampa and Pocatello. In 1900 Japanese railroad crews worked in Ada County, Rexburg, and St. Anthony. By 1900 about 3,500 men were building branch lines in south Idaho, such as those from Murphy to Nampa and Emmett and from Weiser to New Meadows. In north Idaho a high proportion of the work force on the three transcontinental railroads was Japanese. Their earnings were low-from $1.10 to $1.50 per day-and they were lodged in broken-down boxcars fitted with wooden bunks that accommodated from six to twelve men.
Many of the railroad workers took leaves of absence to work for Utah-Idaho Sugar Company and other firms in the sugar beet fields. In 1907 all the 4,000 acres of sugar beets in Idaho Falls, Sugar City, Blackfoot, and Moore were worked exclusively by Japanese. Thinning beets by stooping with a short-handled hoe, and topping by reaching down for each harvested beet and cutting off the top, was hard work-"the kind of work to break not only backs but Spirits too". 1924 But then, as Buddhists and Shintoists, the Japanese had learned to accept whatever happens, to show gratitude for what they had, and to know that everything would come out right. They were not afraid of hard manual labor. By 1910 about 1,000 Japanese in south Idaho were employed in thinning and topping sugar beets, building railroads, constructing irrigation ditches, working as domestic labor, and employed in such private businesses as supply stores, boarding houses, restaurants, barber shops, pool rooms, and tailor shops.
Because the Japanese had achieved, by the 1920s, a near balance of sexes, they were more easily able to retain their language and customs within the privacy of their homes, where the Butsudan shrine (representation of Buddha) commemorating ancestors had its niche. Traditional foods were served, and traditional marriages and funerals were held. The Japanese also had social gatherings, dinners, and annual picnics. They honored their elders and took care of each other. Although the men learned English, the women, more protected, had less opportunity to learn the language. The husband spoke Japanese with his family in the home, thus helping the family retain its language.
Many adopted the dominant religion of the region and affiliated with Christian denominations. Japanese children (Nisei), being born here, had access to the vote, the right to own land, and the civil protections denied their parents. They formed the Japanese American Citizen League (JACL) to assist in the process of Americanization and to insure their civil rights. By the 1920S the Nisei outnumbered the lssei. Parents were caught between the desire to preserve traditional ways and the hope that their children would find success in America.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought America into World War II, 110,000 Japanese from the West Coast were forcibly taken to war relocation camps in Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, and other places in the interior. These relocatees did not affect the permanent settlers in Idaho, but were nevertheless often subjected to prejudice, abuse, and hatred.
After the war, many of the internees remained in Idaho to make their home, especially in the Nampa, Caldwell, and Weiser areas. Work and educational opportunities gradually expanded, anti-Japanese legislation was repealed, and the people were allowed to live as they wished. In 1952 legislation made alien Japanese eligible for citizenship; Japanese immigration resumed. In 1955 Japanese Americans successfully obtained repeal of the Alien Land Law and in 1962 Idaho voters passed a constitutional amendment that deleted the section disqualifying Japanese from full citizenship rights.
Idaho's largest ethnic group has its roots in Mexico and the American Southwest.
Many Hispanics and mestizos (people of mixed Spanish and Indian heritage) worked their way up from New Mexico prior to Idaho's gold rush of the 1860s.
Once gold mining ensued, Hispanics arrived in Idaho Territory to work as miners and packers. Mexican miners worked placers in the hills near Idaho City; others found rich quartz deposits in the Salmon River mountains. Ramon Meras and Anthony Yane operated pack strings out of Lewiston; "Spanish George" ran a pack outfit out of Grangeville for twenty years; another group was based in the Loon Creek Mining District. Jesus Urquides had a large pack-string in the Boise district and built thirty cabins to house packers. He once moved nine tons of steel cable several miles in length up a mountain range to a mine in the Boise Basin. In Boise the enclave between Main Street and the Boise River was known as "Spanish Town"; some of its buildings were still standing as late as 1972.
In the 1870S Mexican vaqueros-cowboys-were hired to work ranches in Owyhee County and elsewhere, where some acquired land and stock of their own. Joseph Amera raised hundreds of cattle near White Bird, and Guadalupe Valez had a large herd in south-central Idaho.
Hispanics were employed by the hundreds to lay railway track in Idaho in the 1880s and 1890s, and many found secure employment in railroad towns like Nampa and Pocatello. Others worked in north Idaho in the Bunker Hill mine and smelters. In this century the development of large-scale agriculture in south Idaho and its subsequent need for cheap labor encouraged Mexicans to come in large numbers. Hand labor was required to pick fruit, thin and top sugar beets, weed and harvest beans, -and pick potatoes. Many of these farm workers later became permanent residents, and by 1920 Idaho had 1,125 residents of Mexican birth.
World War 11 generated a new demand for agricultural workers. Growers induced Congress to create the "bracero" program that allowed farmers to use Mexican nationals to harvest crops. Employers were required to pay transportation costs, cover living expenses, and provide proper treatment. The Forest Service also hired Mexicans to plant seedlings and fight fires; crews of Mexicans were paid to fight blister rust.
The construction and expansion of food-processing plants in Idaho in the 195os and 1960S increased industry demand for laborers to work in fields and in the new factories. In 1950 only 326 persons of Mexican birth were counted as permanent residents; many had gone to California during World War II. By 1960, 2,241 were calling Idaho home. Although job opportunities expanded, difficult problems emerged. The migratory farm work, the language barrier, and little financial and counseling assistance combined to give Hispanics the highest school dropout rate in Idaho; as late as the 1980s less than 40 percent graduated from high school.
In 1990 there were about 65,000 Hispanics in Idaho, about two-thirds of whom were citizens. A developing industry, the production of hops-a labor-intensive crop-employs many Hispanics. In 1986 Anhaeuser-Busch established a camp for about 150 Mexicans working in the hops fields north of Bonners Ferry.
Concern has increased for the operation of "decent" and "sanitary" labor centers. The Twin Falls office of the Idaho Migrant Council has taken over the maintenance and operation of the labor center a mile south of Twin Falls that has housed migrants for decades. The dilapidated housing has been transformed into a model labor camp equipped with new insulation, wiring, bathrooms, kitchen cabinets, and doors and windows.
With more Mexicans establishing permanent residence in the state, the Idaho Association of Mexican Americans was formed in 1976 to perpetuate Hispanic customs among their children.There are now dozens of Mexican restaurants, local tortilla factories, and bilingual teachers, nurses, and store clerks in most southern Idaho towns. Spanish-language radio stations and churches flourish, and Mexican bands play for dances, weddings, and fiestas. Mexican Americans give strong emphasis to familial bonds, and extended families have gathered in many places, with parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, and grandparents. The importance of an extended family is reflected in the care with which Mexican Americans choose god. parents for their children-someone to took after them in case Of death of the biological parents.
Religion has played an important role in Mexican American communities. Although the vast majority are Roman Catholics there are many who are Mormons, and some have joined the Assembly of God and other charismatic groups. In the Burt Rupert area, for example, there were eight Spanish-language churches. A large tinted picture of the appearance of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego had a prominent place at the front of the Burley Little Flower church, and small statues of the Virgin graced the front or back yards of many Hispanic homes. A statue of the Virgin was in the center of the lawn in front of the Guadalupe Center in Twin Falls.
Recognizing that Mexican Americans are a permanent part of their communities, Anglos have learned to enjoy many local Hispanic customs: the celebration of quincineras (the rite of passage for young women); Our Lady of Guadalupe and Las Posadas holidays that begin the Hispanic Christmas; fiestas and celebrations honoring patron saints; Cinco de Mayo, celebrating the Mexican defeat of the French army in 1862; Mexican Independence Day, September 16; and such musical groups as "Los Pequefios Ballerinas" and "Ballet Folklorico de Pocatello."
Although their numbers have always comprised less than 1 percent of Idaho's population, African-Americans have made important contributions to the state's history.
York, the personal servant of Captain William Clark, served with the government-sponsored expedition of Lewis and Clark. A few black explorers and trappers ventured into the area in the years that followed; and blacks mined in Idaho in the 1860s, even though whites in Boise County passed a law in 1863 to exclude blacks and Chinese from prospecting, and the territorial legislature considered a bill to prohibit black migration to Idaho.
Silver City reportedly had the largest concentration of black miners in the territory in the 1860s, and there were pockets of blacks in Boise County, near Wallace in northern Idaho, and at the mining camp of Custer in Lemhi County. The territorial census of 1870 reported sixty "free colored" people in Idaho. Of the twenty who lived in Boise, some were barbers, others cooks. With the growth of stockraising, black cowboys were also attracted to Idaho in the 1870s.
A few black converts to Mormonism came to the Salt Lake Valley in the late 1840s and later went to Idaho. Green Flake, for example, who drove Brigham Young's wagon to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, later moved to Gray's Lake, near Idaho Falls, where he homesteaded and raised his family. Ned Leggroan, a former slave from Mississippi, also homesteaded in Bonneville County in the 1880s. Gobo Fango, orphaned in Africa, was smuggled into the United States by an LDS family in Layton, Utah. He herded sheep for the family north of Oakley Basin and was fatally shot there by a white cattleman in 1886.
Members of the Twenty-Fifth Infantry Regiment from Missoula, an all-black unit, were ordered to the Coeur d'Alene mining region in 1892 to crush the labor unrest. Seven years later, the Twenty-Fourth Infantry, another company of black soldiers, returned to the region to arrest striking miners. The Twenty-Fifth also fought devastating forest fire blazes near Avery and Wallace in 1910. One reporter wrote: "Black fire fighters made the mountains echo with their songs."
The 1910 census indicates that most of the 651 black residents in Idaho were waiters, servants, barbers, farm and railroad laborers, and, in the case of employed women, domestic or personal servants. A few were farmers or miners. About half lived in Pocatello and Boise, where they worked for Union Pacific Railroad Company. Ten years later there were 920 blacks in Idaho. In Boise in the 1920s they worked in clubs and hotels and in homes as handymen and domestics. They ran barbershops, rooming houses, a pool hall, a grocery. The Owyhee Hotel in the 1920s had fourteen black waiters. The largest concentration of blacks in the 1920s, however, was in Pocatello, where the men worked as laborers in the railroad yards, on section gangs, and as porters. Black railroad workers for the Union Pacific in Pocatello refused to join the 1922 strike led by white employees because they were not allowed to be members of the union.
As elsewhere, some prejudice and discrimination existed. The leading theater in Pocatello required blacks to sit on the left side of the theater; others reserved balconies for blacks and Indians. Yet blacks did have employment, lodges, clubs, and friends. They often sponsored educational events for blacks and whites. Social life usually centered around the church. Boise had an African Methodist Episcopal church and the Bethel Baptist Church, Pocatello the Bethel and Corinth Baptist churches.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, many blacks left Idaho. There were only 595 blacks in Idaho in 1940, four-fifths of whom lived in cities. Programs of the New Deal provided road building and construction jobs and several all-black Civilian Conservation Corps camps. One of these was at Arrowrock Dam near Boise; two others were in Coeur d'Alene National Forest.
Idaho's African American population was 1,050 in 1950, some of them soldiers or former soldiers. Until the 1950s blacks were excluded from the YMCA and from working or dining in some restaurants. But in the years since World War II there have been black teachers in schools, black athletes at all the state's colleges and universities; and Les Puree became one of the first black mayors in the West when he was elected mayor of Pocatello in 1975. Puree, formerly a faculty member at Idaho State University and now president of Evergreen State College in Washington, served as chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party.
Southeast Asians & Filipinos
The most recent ethnic groups to come to Idaho were the Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, and Filipinos.
Approximately 1,800 Southeast Asian immigrants were resettled in Idaho between 1975 and 1988. Living primarily in Boise and Twin Falls, they have found employment in fish hatcheries, food-processing plants, electronics factories, as tailors, in service occupations and on farms.
Like other immigrants, they wish to assimilate but do not want to lose their culture. For instance, the Lao Association of Twin Falls sponsors cultural events as well as mutual assistance. There are traditional weddings, funerals, and New Year celebrations.
Some Filipinos came to Idaho in the early decades of the century as farm workers. By 1960 there were about 200 Filipinos in Idaho, most of them in rural areas. Since then, most of the immigrants have been professional people-nurses, engineers, business people. Half of the Filipinos in Idaho in 1990 lived in Boise or surrounding towns.
A Rich Heritage
As the discussions above indicate, Idaho has been culturally rich from the time the first immigrants arrived. The state's history demonstrates that, despite occasions of intolerance and bigotry, the different cultures could prosper together without being submerged or crushed. The most compelling proof occurred as Idaho concluded its centennial celebrations in 1990 with the re-election of Pete Cenarrusa, a Catholic Basque, as secretary of state, and the election of Larry EchoHawk, an Indian Mormon, as the state's attorney general.
Pete Cenarrusa was born in Carey, the son of Basque immigrants, and graduated from Bellevue High School, then from the University of Idaho, where he was a member of the university's first national intercollegiate championship boxing team. After teaching at secondary schools in Cambridge, Carey, and Glenns Ferry, he became a Marine pilot during World War II, retiring with the rank of major, and then a farmer and sheep rancher in Carey. He was elected to the Idaho House of Representatives, where he served nine consecutive terms including, three as Speaker of the House. In 1967 he was appointed Secretary of State to fill the unexpired term of Edson Deal, who had died, and was elected in succeeding terms so that, by 1990, when he was reelected, he had served as a continuously elected state official for forty years-longer than any person in Idaho history.
Larry EchoHawk was born in Cody, Wyoming, one of six children of members of the Pawnee Tribe. He was educated in New Mexico and then attended Brigham Young University, where he played football and was named to the Academic All Conference team. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps, then went on to earn a Juiris Doctor degree from the University of Utah Law School and taught law at BYU, the University of Utah, and Idaho State University. He was named chief general counsel of the Shoshoni-Bannock tribe in 1977 and held that position for eight years. He was elected to the Idaho House of Representatives, served two terms, and then became Bannock County prosecutor. He was elected attorney general in 1990, the first Native American in U.S. history to hold statewide office. Early in 1991 USA Weekend featured EchoHawk on its cover as one of America's twenty most promising people in politics.
Rocks, Rails & Trails Chapter 6: Mormon Settlement of Southeastern Idaho