People, Races, Ethnicity in the U.S. East Indian Americans

About the East Indian Americans in the U.S. including where they are from, why they left, how many there are, East Indian-Americans and more.


(For American Indians, see "Native Americans" below.)

Where They Came From: Demographic migration from India to the U.S. has been based on class, not on any particular district or province. The exception is the growing population of turbaned Sikhs arriving from Punjab.

Why They Left: Though many Indians once left their country to escape poverty or British rule, most of those who come to the U.S. today are university students.

Where They Settled: Immigrating Indians have established several permanent colonies in California, but mainly they live near universities in the East and Midwest. The University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, for example, has a "Little India" of more than 2,000 students. Though a lot of Indians return home after completing their studies, some remain to teach at colleges or intern at hospitals all over the U.S.

Numbers: According to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 107,446 East Indians entered the U.S. between 1820 and 1975. About 60% of that number arrived after 1970.

Their Story in America: One of the first Indian visitors to America was Swami Vivekananda, who attended the 1893 Chicago Exposition to teach Americans about Hindu philosophy. Two years later, itinerant railroad workers and farmers from India began wandering into northern California from Canada.

It was not until 1946, when Congress repealed the 1917 Immigration Act banning Indian immigrants, that large numbers of Indians entered the U.S. In the 1960s President Kennedy was responsible for a further lowering of the immigration barriers. Today Indians rank third in number among foreign students, behind Canadians and Chinese.

Though practically all East Indian Americans are professionals from India's Brahman caste or are studying for advanced degrees, and though most speak English, they have nonetheless clung to their own culture and communities.

Famous East Indian Americans: Biochemist Har Gobind Khorana, who was awarded the 1968 Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine: and philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, author of many books, including Commentaries on Living.

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