US: Astoria revives its more than 100-year-old Indian connection

Anjana Raghav

US: Astoria revives its more than 100-year-old Indian connection

16 Jul 2018: US: Astoria revives its more than 100-year-old Indian connection

The historic port city of Astoria in the North Western American State of Oregon is trying to revive its more than a century old Indian connection which was forgotten till a few years ago.

Till 2013, the city of Astoria knew little about the Indians who had lived in this community about a century ago, said Ellen Rosenblum a former city councilwoman.

Here's more.

Fact: Meeting held in Astoria laid foundation stone of Ghadar movement

Portland-based historian Johanna Ogden sent to Astoria city council a research paper she wrote about the city's connection with India's freedom struggle telling them that 2013 incidentally was 100-years of a meeting held in the city that laid the foundation of the historic Ghadar movement.

Astoria visit: Indians had come to Astoria in 1900

"The Indians had come to Astoria looking for work in 1900. They were Indians working on the riverfront, in the canneries, and in the mills in Oregon along the Columbia River. They were here from Astoria in the far west to the Dalles, Oregon," Rosenblum said.

The Indians came in contact with Finnish community at the time of an active international labor movement.

Fact: Finnish workers, Americans, Indians had common goal of freedom

"They were all working alongside each other. The Finnish workers were talking about their fight with Russia. The Americans were talking to them about their freedom from Great Britain. And the Indians wanted freedom from the British. So they had a common goal," Rosenblum said.

New party: Ghadar Party was introduced in 1913 in Finnish Socialist Hall

The seeds of the Ghadar Party were laid in Finnish Socialist Hall in 1913. The five-story building was gutted in a fire decades ago, Rosenblum said.

Former Astoria Mayor Willis L Van Dusen issued a proclamation in 2013 to recognize the formation of the Ghadar Party here and installed a plaque in a park near the venue of the first meeting a century ago.

Newspaper launch: 1913 meeting decided to launch a newspaper

While Ghadar name itself came later, the meeting was held under the banner of Pacific Coast Hindustan Association.

The meeting decided to launch a newspaper and set up a public office in San Francisco. The paper came out in December 1913 when the term Ghadar gained popularity.

"Those decisions were made here in Astoria," Portland-based historian Johanna Ogden said.

Fact: Ghadar Foundation to commemorate 1913 event annually

The Ghadar Foundation is now working with the Astoria council and local community members to have a permanent memorial and hold an annual event to commemorate the 1913 event, which is now part of the city's history.