Historical Background

This memorial honors the struggles and hard work not only East Indian, Chinese and Japanese immigrants but all immigrants since early 1800s, who came to America from all continents, seeking better life opportunities for their families. Each ethnic immigrant community and families have a unique story to share with current and future generation to remind them of their contributions to shape the American destiny as a nation.

This Arch of Healing and Reconciliation erected in 2017 to honor the immigrant communities in Bellingham and Whatcom County, recognizes the welcome and hospitality of local tribal members of Lummi and Nooksack tribes, to the immigrant families coming to this region before and after the Point Elliot Treaty.


Click on an image below for larger photo.




The 1890 census records one Chinese person in Whatcom County, “Charley” Ah Fat of Point Roberts. An 1893 real estate advertisement for Bellingham Bay bragged, “ The foreign population are nearly all Norwegians, Swedes, and Canadian …there are no Chinese, no Hungarians and few Italians.” – photo courtesy of Point Roberts Historical Society



View Bellingham Herald Article Text


On the night of September 4, 1907, a roving gangs of rioters walked from mill to mill, from boarding house to boarding house, hauling out “Hindus” roughing them up and ordering them to get out of the town. East Indian immigrants, mostly Sikh, Muslims and Hindus from Punjab, worked in local lumber mills. The familiar slogans shouted by rioters were like: “they take away our jobs”, “they are threat to our religion and community”, “they must go”!

2017 is the 110th Anniversary, of these events called, “1907 Bellingham Hindu Riots”. .

View the documentary “Present in All that We Do” by Andrew Hedden and Ian Morgan.

In 1885, similar race riots occurred against the Chinese community in Vancouver, BC, Bellingham and Tacoma, Washington. Also in 1942 Japanese Americans were interned, while no crime was committed by any member of the community.


View Bellingham Herald Article


View Bellingham Herald Article


Original caption in Colliers: “Hindus at Bellingham discussing the riot situation with a local peace officer” Credit: Colliers magazine, September 28, 1907 (reprint of Bellingham Herald, September 5, 1907 photograph).

Hindus at Bellingham discussing the riot situation with a local peace officer

Original caption in Colliers: “A part of 200 Hindus driven to take refuge in the city hall by anti-Oriental rioters at Bellingham, Washington” Credit: Colliers magazine, September 28, 1907 (reprint of Bellingham Herald, September 5, 1907 photograph).


“Evacuated Local Japanese Board Bus”
A total of 33 residents of Japanese descent were relocated to Tule Lake, California (June 4, 1942, Bellingham Herald)





Section under development.

Whatcom Community Foundation is honored to be the fiscal sponsor for the Arch of Healing and Reconciliation project. All gifts to the project are tax-deductible and will be accepted and processed by the Whatcom Community Foundation.