Idaho CPE (The Other End)

cabinet landing

The 1882 railroad boomtown of Cabinet Landing, Lake Pend d’Oreille, Idaho Territory (image credit: Spokane Historical)

While the West was still a bunch of Territories, Chinese immigrants knew how to unite to stake out their territory.

Here a Dakota Territory newspaper quotes from a California paper that ran a letter from someone “at Lake Pen d’Oreille [Pend d’Oreille City], I[daho] Territory”, about labor conditions there:

coolie herder

A more thankless or difficult task can scarcely be coneeived of, than this of the “coolie herder.” He is expected to keep his Chinamen at work if he fails he is removed bv the superintendent. He finds it impossible to urge or hurry his Mongolian charges. They dig, talk, chatter, laugh and loaf. There is no hurry about a Chinese laborer. He just keeps moving —that’s all. When a live, active white man is placed in charge of a gang he attempts to hurry the Mongolians. Tbey usually stand this crowding or hurry business one day. Next day the gang strikes work. The superintendent or section boss is sent for, who asks: “What’s the matter, boys; why don’t you go to work?”

Then the spokesman of the gang meekly and smilingly replies: “Boss no good; we no sabbee boss; we no sabbee boss.

That settles it. A new boss is substi­tuted before the coolies will “sabbeeenough to go to work. Hence it can be seen who is boss at this neck of woods. Chinamen are hard to get, and they have to be handled gently.

— from the “The Other End: What the North Pacific is Doing on the Pacific Slope”, in the Bismarck (Dakota Territory) Tribune of August 25, 1882, page 2, column 5

What do you think?