Chinese Peak sits in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Fresno and is home to a ski resort. While many similarly named peaks derived their nomenclature from Chinese settlements nearby, Chinese Peak is named after an individual, Charley Lee Blasingame, who defied the racial discrimination of his time. A prominent rancher named J.A. Blasingame recruited Lee to the area, and Lee became a manager in the family’s livestock empire. The Blasingames referred to Lee as part of their “family”—a word they used to signify their esteem for the skills that he brought to their organization. Lee befriended Sierra Club members, meeting John Muir and Joseph LeConte. While most Chinese Americans in this period faced increasing prejudice, Lee enjoyed wide respect in the local area for his expertise as a rancher and manager. On his deathbed, Lee asked the Blasingames to return his bones to China, but they refused. His successes are commemorated in the mountain peak named in his honor, though his wishes were denied by those who no longer saw him as Chinese.
The Cowboy and the Mountain: Charley Lee Blasingame and Chinese American Interactions in the Sierra Nevada
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Jeffery M. Der Torosian, Bradley W. Hart; The Cowboy and the Mountain: Charley Lee Blasingame and Chinese American Interactions in the Sierra Nevada. Pacific Historical Review 1 November 2016; 85 (4): 506–531. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/phr.2016.85.4.506
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