Asians in New Orleans

Bangladesh Community in New Orleans | Chinese in New Orleans | Filipinos in New Orleans | Louisiana Asian Heritage | Indians in New Orleans | Japanese in New Orleans | Koreans in New Orleans | Pakistanis in New Orleans | Thais in New Orleans | Taiwanese in New Orleans | Vietnamese in New Orleans

There has been an Asian presence in New Orleans since the colonial era with the arrival of Spanish speaking Filipino sailors who jumped ship in Mexico and made their way to the colony in the 1700's. However, there was not a heavy presence of Asians until after the Civil War. A few hardy Chinese led the influx, arriving as contract workers in the 1860's. The 1880 U.S. Census indicated that there were 489 Chinese in the entire state of Louisiana. Currently, it is estimated that there are about five thousand in New Orleans alone.

By the 1990's the Asian and subcontinent population had diversified, with the arrival of Thais, Indians, Pakistanis, Taiwanese, and, after the fall of Vietnam, thousands of Vietnamese. Some of the more established groups, such as the Chinese and Filipinos, are seeing value in "growing public" and are gaining political influence by being more vocal. Harry Lee, a prominent Chinese-American whose family members are well-known restaurant owners, was elected sheriff of neighboring Jefferson Parish in 1980. His penchant for wearing a cowboy hat and boots has earned Lee the friendly nickname Chinese Cowboy.

Asian families are spread throughout the Greater New Orleans area; however, most of the recent arrivals are Southeast Asians who live in eastern New Orleans or on the West Bank. Although relatively poor and in the city for only a short time, they have made extraordinary strides in establishing themselves.

Adapted from "Passport's Guide to Ethnic New Orleans" by Martin Hintz


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