Mrs. Norma Saikhon, chair of the East Indian Gallery at the ImperialÂ Valley Historical Society, was our guest speaker during our NovemberÂ Woman’s Club meeting. The program, entitled – In Search of the PromiseÂ of America: History and Heritage of East Indians in Imperial Valley,Â brought a large measure of social awareness to the people attending the
Men from Indiaâ€™s Punjab province were among the earliest settlers inÂ the Imperial Valley. As pioneers, they faced hardships andÂ discrimination, such as U.S. legislation not allowing them to becomeÂ citizens or own property. Despite this, being hard workers, theyÂ flourished, and their descendants now form an integral part of theÂ fabric of the Imperial Valley. Case in point, is Mrs. Saikhon herself.
Her father, Mr. Mota Singh, settled in the Imperial Valley back in theÂ 1920â€™s, giving her â€” through word of mouth â€” second-hand knowledgeÂ of what the conditions were like back in those early years in the UnitedÂ States.
Here in the Valley, with a few exceptions, the Punjabis got along wellÂ with the farmers of the Imperial Valley. This was especially true ifÂ they settled in one place and farmed land. This gave the farmers theÂ opportunity to get to know them, forming bonds. An interesting fact: aÂ special relationship developed between Punjabis and the Swiss of theÂ Imperial Valley. What was the attraction? Answer – wrestling.
With the passing of the Luce-Celler Bill in 1947, they were finallyÂ allowed to become naturalized citizens and to own property. DespiteÂ this overview, there is so much more to learn about their history. ForÂ something other than just a rough outline, we encourage you to visit theÂ Pioneers Park Museum at 373 E. Aten Road in Imperial, CA.
The Womanâ€™s Club of Holtville thanks Mrs. Norma Saikhon for herÂ interesting and knowledgeable presentation.
Marcia R. Jennings
Publicity Chair for Woman’s Club of Holtville