Colorado Sikhs, a non-profit based in Parker, Colorado, is pioneering a 2-year project to document the stories of Sikh families and individuals throughout the state. After the completion of the project, they plan to publish the findings for both the Sikh community and for the public as a whole.
In April 2022, History Colorado, a charitable organization under the Colorado Department of Higher Education, provided a grant of $49,728 to a non-profit called “Colorado Sikhs” in order to record oral histories and create a working archive of the Sikh community within the state. Colorado Sikhs, in coordination with the Alpine Archaeological Consultants and the Sikh American History Project, will interview 200 members of the Sikh community over a span of two years. Once completed, the collection of interviews and the archived history of the community will go into a cohesive report, and eventually become accessible to the Sikh community and the public at large.
Colorado Sikhs was founded in September 2012, and the mission of the organization is to promote diversity, understanding, and community development through education and civic engagement throughout the state of Colorado. The organization was created in response to the mass shooting that occurred in Oak Creek, Wisconsin in August 2012, and the primary goal of the organization’s founders was to counter xenophobic and racist sentiments with knowledge, and actively engage and educate the greater Coloradoan community about the Sikh community. Alongside their current project with History Colorado, the organization provides educational materials and presentations for all audiences, from K-12 schools to federal agencies, to churches, and beyond.
Sikhism is a religion that comes from the Punjab region in modern day India and Pakistan. It was founded in 1469 by Guru Nanak, and the core tenets of the religion are that all beings are one and there is a need for equality of all forms to be achieved for all.
According to the Sikh Coalition, there are an estimated 25 million Sikhs worldwide, with around 500,000 followers in the United States. Sikhs first came to the United States in the late 1800s, initially settling in the western United States, where they primarily worked in the lumber industry, railroad construction, and on farms. The community then settled throughout the United States throughout the following century, with large concentrations being in the northeast and midwestern United States, as well as states such as California and Texas. But one state in particular, Colorado, has also been home to a sizable Sikh community for over a century. The largest concentration lives in the Front Range region of Colorado, which houses the Denver Metropolitan Area. This is also where the Denver Sikh Gurudwara, a place of worship for Sikhs, is located.
The Sikh community is vibrant and widespread throughout the United States. This grant allows the community to have their longstanding presence throughout the country properly documented and represented.
Ramil Mercado is a participant in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington. He is a graduate student at American University’s School of International Service, studying International Affairs with a focus on the Indo-Pacific region.