Overview

1956 Dalip Singh Saund
Dalip Singh Saund was the first Asian American and Punjabi Sikh American to be elected to the US Congress in 1956.  Source: heritageseries.us.

The Punjabis are a dynamic, influential community that have contributed to California’s agriculture, science, technology, medicine, education, and other professional fields over the last one hundred and twenty years.  The community has also enriched the state’s religious and cultural diversity. In the early twentieth century, Punjabi pioneers helped build many of the railroad networks on the West Coast, including the Western Pacific, the Southern Pacific, and the Northern Pacific railway lines.  They also worked extensively in the lumber mills in Washington and Oregon.  Coming from farming backgrounds, they gravitated towards agriculture, contributing to the transformation of California’s agriculture over the course of the twentieth century.  In the Sacramento Valley today, the Punjabi American community carries considerable political, economic, and cultural influence, and the Yuba City area boasts the largest rural South Asian community outside of the Indian subcontinent.