Celebration of Chinese New Year in Deadwood helps keep culture, history alive

DEADWOOD, S.D. — The Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center hosted an afternoon of new year fun for kids in grades kindergarten through six.

It was a celebration of the Chinese new year, and the year of the ox.

“We decided we were going to celebrate that sort of tradition and culture and history. It has a lot of roots here in Deadwood. We had some Chinese immigrants that came during the gold rush, and so their ancestors, their relatives are still sponsoring our programs like this one,” said Amanda Brown, Education Director for Deadwood history.

This celebration was sponsored by Beatrice and Edith Wong, descendants of Fee Lee Wong, one of the first Chinese immigrants to make Deadwood his home.

Chinese New Year 2021

Like many other Chinese immigrants, the Wongs brought their culture and helped to shape life in the northern Black Hills.

“A lot of businesses; They had laundry businesses, grocery stores, restaurants. They were a very significant part of downtown Main Street. And so, while they were here, they were introducing their culture to the other people that were living here in Deadwood, and so we continue that today,” Brown said.

There were only a handful of participants, but they had an opportunity to create lanterns, Chinese

zodiac calendars, and participate in a red envelope ceremony.

“They loved it, they loved learning about it. I had the Executive Director, Caroline Weber, here and she was asking them what they learned. And they were able to tell her everything that we had talked about earlier. About why it’s celebrated here in Deadwood, when Chinese new year started this year, what the year is, it’s the year of the ox. So, I think that they really enjoyed it,” Brown added.

While the Deadwood celebration is over, Chinese new year festivities usually last sixteen days, and will end on February 26.

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