February 8, 2023
In 1813, a trader named Peter Dillon, 25, boarded a ship named Hunter in Calcutta. The crew had planned to comb through islands of the South Pacific Sea for a prized item as valuable as gold: sandalwood. But upon washing up on an island, Dillon and his men clashed with native tribes, and violence ensued. Dillon, along with his five remaining comrades, then watched from the top of a rock as the natives ate his fallen crew members.
Dillon would write about his adventures in In Narrative and Successful Result of a Voyage to the South Seas (1829). The rock that had once saved his life would later be named Dillon’s Rock after him. Their boat had embarked upon the Bligh Islands — now known as Fiji. Over the following centuries, the island nation would see one of the biggest mass migrations in history as immigrants arrived from India.
Centuries later, many Indo-Fijians would find themselves in California, twice migrants, building their lives again from scratch. As of 2010, there were 32,304 Fijian Americans living in the U.S., with 75% of them in the state of California alone. So how did the west coast state become a haven for Indo-Fijians?