Wenatchee’s Dark Past

Written by Maureen E. Marshall
Category: · History

Wenatchee’s Dark Past is a non-fiction book looking at racial minorities in the Wenatchee, Washington area. The struggles of Indians, Asians, Blacks, and Latinos are reviewed in chronological and topical order. A thorough manuscript, with over 1400 citations, this book would make a great supplemental textbook for classes on Washington state history or race relations.

Highlights from the book include: Indians helped the White settlers survive the winter by helping them cross rivers and supplying them with food; forced off their land, Indians worked as migrant workers picking hops, tomatoes, and apples; Saddle Rock, the famous rock formation in Wenatchee, is officially named “Squaw Saddle;” an entire Chinese village of over 100 residents just north of Wenatchee had a store, laundry, barber shop, and stables; the City of Wenatchee passed a resolution forbidding “Mongolians” from entering the town; the Wenatchee World favored the exclusion of Japanese, arguing that Wenatchee was turning into a “Jap town;” local Japanese-Americans were forced from their homes, fired from their jobs, and rounded up before being sent to internment camps in Wyoming in 1942; angry mobs forcibly removed Filipino workers from town in the 1920s; Antoine Creek and Negro Creek were both named for a Black orchardist; the KKK burned down a Black family’s home in 1922, but in 1945 the City of Wenatchee burned down over 100 homes; the Bracero Program during World War II brought Mexicans to Wenatchee to save the apple crop; and Latino migrant workers in the 1990s had no housing available, so they slept in cars, used a nearby stream as a kitchen and bathroom, and hung raw meat from clotheslines.

Wenatchee’s Dark Past was hailed by The Wenatchee World as “an interesting read” and received a “thumbs up” from their resident historian, Wilfred Woods.

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