Nativism in Nevada: Greek Immigrants in White Pine County

by E.D. Karampetsos

Published in the Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 24, no. 1 (1998); 61-95

     This study of the experiences of Greek immigrants and their children in White Pine County, Nevada, contributes to our knowledge of both the recurring phenomenon of American nativism and the rapid, by world standards, assimilation of European groups initially victimized by it.  Greek immigrants were, at the beginning of this century, "the dominant labor force in the mines, mills and smelters of White Pine Country, Nevada, and Salt Lake County, Utah."  In 1910, for example, Greek immigrant workers (from 1500 to 1600 persons, virtually all men) composed 5.8% of the population of Nevada and 10% of the population of White Pine County.  The Greeks knew little English and, coming as they did from an agricultural society, lacked the training required for more skilled positions in an industrial economy.  However, like the Italians and Slavs, who arrived about the same time, the Greeks willingly did the menial tasks native-born Americans disdained.  They did the most dangerous jobs, were housed, twelve to sixteen in tents, and received the lowest wages possible for their efforts.  As the largest body of foreigners in the county, the Greeks were the focal point of an almost intractable nativistic racism.  America has long despised, feared and exploited its immigrant workers - as it did the Greeks - who contributed so much to its wealth.  The Greeks were constantly harassed by . . . 

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