“Massacred for Gold, The Chinese in Hells Canyon,”
by R. Gregory Nokes, is the first authoritative account of the long-forgotten 1887 massacre of as many as 34 Chinese gold miners in Oregon's Hells Canyon, the deepest canyon in North America.
The killers were an improbable gang of horsethieves and schoolboys in northeastern Oregon's remote Wallowa country. Even though the killers were known, and one confessed, no one was ever convicted of the crime. A cover-up followed and the crime was all but forgotten for the next 100 years, until a county clerk found hidden records in an unused safe.
Massacred for Gold traces the author's long, personal journey to expose details of the massacre and its aftermath to understand how the crime was kept in the dark for so long.
The massacre was the worst of the many atrocities committed by whites against the tens of thousands of Chinese who immigrated to the American West in the 19th century to mine gold and build railroads. Nokes examines the once-substantial presence of Chinese laborers in the interior Pacific Northwest, describing why they came, how their efforts contributed to the region's development, and how often mistreatment and abuse were their only reward.
Nokes discloses previously unknown details of the massacre, told against the background of the Chinese experience in the American West. He also includes the history of the Wallowa country, once the homeland for Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce until they were forced to leave in 1877, igniting the U.S.-Nez Perce war.
"This is an important book. Meticulously researched and engagingly written, "Massacred for Gold" should be required reading in the American West. Sadly, it took more than 100 years for someone to give this massacre the relentless attention and indignation it has always deserved, but Gregory Nokes has finally done it.''
—Jim Lynch, author of "The Highest Tide'' and "Border Songs.''