Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Native American Workers at the Hoover Dam

It was the 1930’s and racism was widespread.  The worksite of the Hoover Dam was no exception. The U.S. government's contract with Six Companies stipulated that only American citizens be hired for the job. The term American citizen, however, came to be defined as white American citizen.

For Native Americans, jobs were rare.  Of the few that were hired, most were employed as high scalers, due to the stereotypical belief that they were used to high places and dangling hundreds of feet from the steep canyon walls would be a non-issue for them.  Sitting on a small board strung with hemp rope, they would pack dynamite into the walls and swing out of the way before the rock exploded.  It was the most dangerous job at the worksite. 

                                                Unidentified Native American work crew, 1932

In my upcoming novel, Ragtown, meet “Chief” Dan Buck, a Native American who works alongside young Lance Camino lining the hellish diversion tunnels with concrete.  He is a family man, drinks orange Nehi soda, an unlike the stereotype, is afraid of heights.


-RWWGreene said...

Love that picture, but not as much as I love learning something new. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff, Kelly. We've believed the same myth in New York about native American Indians working the bridges and construction sites here.