Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type

Thesis

Department

History

Abstract

Chinese immigrants began to arrive in the United States midway through the nineteenth century. Gradually, as mining opportunities began to open, the Chinese immigrants began to move eastward into the U.S. interior to places such as Montana. The purpose of this Thesis is to examine how Chinese immigrants maintained traditional Chinese spiritual practices and how those practices changed over time. This study relies primarily relied on period newspaper accounts, critically analyzed to interpret how the Chinese immigrants maintained their traditions in Montana. The method employed to find the necessary primary sources involved a scouring of secondary sources to find relevant primary sources and the utilization of digitized Montana newspapers. In addition multiple visits were made to the Montana Historical Society and the ButteSilverbow Public Archives. Secondary sources regarding traditional Chinese funeral traditions were used to analyze period newspaper accounts of Chinese funerals, celebrations, and religious temples. Based on this analysis and the use of secondary sources, I have concluded that early Chinese immigrants maintained their spiritual traditions as a cultural link to China. As the Chinese immigrant population declined due to harsh laws and boycotts intended to drive the Chinese away, these traditions declined in Montana. In addition, there was a gradual shift from their traditional cultural practices to an adaptation of various western cultural practices, including some conversion to Christianity.

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