After Decades of Neglect, the Site Where Chinese Laborers Were Interred Gets a Memorial

The Los Angeles Times reports on recently discovered remains of Chinese railroad workers in California whose graves had been removed but who now will be honored with a monument and the preservation of their objects for educational use:

In all, the MTA discovered 174 burial sites as well as many artifacts — including buttons, Chinese porcelain, glasses, rice bowls, jade, coins and opium pipes.

All the bones and artifacts will now be reinterred inside Evergreen Cemetery. The process, which will take several months, will start the first week in April, the MTA says.

The MTA spent $2 million on the project — on excavation, archaeological research, DNA analysis, construction of the memorial wall and the purchase of burial plots and coffins, said Carl Ripaldi, principal environmental specialist with the MTA.

Members of the local Chinese community look forward to the end of the story.

“It’s been too long for these remains to be out there in some laboratory,” said Daisy Ma, president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance. “We do not want to wait any longer. We want closure.”

The community has, however, expressed a desire to make educational use of what was learned when the grave sites were dug up. The MTA has promised to document the large collection of objects buried with the bodies and provide records to the Fowler Museum at UCLA. They have also had replicas made of some of the artifacts to give to the Chinese Historical Society and the Chinese Benevolent Assn.

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