Indians Immigration History

Pioneer Asian Indian Immigration to the Pacific Coast

    "So my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."—President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address, January 20, 1961

Reasons for scarce immigration

  • Hindu beliefs discouraged crossing the “Black Waters” to the United States.

  • European powers that colonized India restricted movement of the native Indian people.

History of Indian immigration to the United States

  • 1820 – 1898 - only 523 Indians immigrated to North America, mostly unskilled laborers and agricultural workers. 

    Although some of these were students, a vast majority were unskilled laborers from Punjab who were lured by Canadian railroad and steamship companies to the Pacific Northwest.

  • After 1943, when barriers on Chinese immigration and naturalization were lifted, Indians argued for the same rights as the Chinese.

  • As a result, the Asian American Citizenship Act was signed into law by President Truman on July 3, 1946.

Gobindram was the first Indian to become a naturalized American citizen.


1947. Wives and daughters of Punjabi immigrants during the first India Independence Day celebrated in the Yuba City-Marysville, California, area. With few exceptions, all the wives were of Mexican descent (Photo Courtesy of Isabel Singh Garcia, Yuba City, California.)

1947. Wives and daughters of Punjabi immigrants duing first India Independence Day celebrated in the Yuba City-Marysville, California, area.


Funeral of Dharm Singh Jian in Arizona

Funeral of Dharm Singh Jian in Arizona. Died June 19, 1937.  Source: Hari Singh Everest (Yuba City).

Isabel Garcia

1996. Mrs. Isabel Singh Garcia Mrs. Garcia is very active in documenting and promoting Hindu-Mexican heritage in the Yuba City and Marysville, California area. (Photo by author T.S. Sibia, taken at the Community Memorial Museum of Sutter County.)

1989. Sikh field workers, Huron, CA

1989. Sikh field workers, Huron, California. (Photo from California Farmer, "Ethnic Farmers", 270(2):9, by Richard Steven Street, Jan. 21, 1989. Permission requested.)


  • They reflect the multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-lingual society of India.

  • They are represented in many fields including academics and entrepreneurs, doctors and lawyers, engineers and financiers.

  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Indian American median family income is $60,093 as against the national median family income of $38, 885. South Asian Americans

A few Prominent Indian Americans

    Bose speaker systems. 901 Direct Reflecting Speaker-System which set a new standard for lifelike sound reproduction.

    Nobel Prize in medicine and Physiology with Marshall,Nirenberg and Robert Holley for their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis.

  • 1997 – Kalpana Chawla – mission specialist on STS-87 the fourth U.S Microgravity Payload flight on the space shuttle Columbia.

  • The early immigrants were persecuted because they were unskilled laborers.

  • The new wave of immigrants from India are educated, trained and skilled in their respective fields.

  • They are a productive segment of the U. S. population, with 72.3% participating in the work force.


    Their experiences through out history have been unique and they represent the most visible and advanced communities in the nation. And amazingly they have done it in one generation.

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