History of Our Albuquerque Chapter

Albuquerque

The Albuquerque Lodge was chartered with a membership of 24 male Chinese American citizens in ceremonies conducted by Grand President George Chew, of Oakland, Calif., on April 24, 1961. Since that date, Albuquerque Lodge members have proudly exercised the power of citizenship for the good of the all citizens of New Mexico, which celebrates its ethnic diversity. Lodge members have nurtured partnerships with Chinese American and other ethnic groups, fostered understanding of Chinese American contributions to mainstream culture and society, and broadened a more positive perception of Chinese Americans.   Sustained belief in C.A.C.A. goals and objectives motivated Albuquerque Lodge to sponsor and nurture the development of the Mississippi Lodge, which was chartered September 9, 2000, in Greenville, Mississippi.

 

Activities in Early Years

 

Social activities of Albuquerque Lodge included bowling, tennis, Easter egg hunts, picnics, Christmas parties, lodge anniversary and Chinese New Year dinners. Chinese New Year dinners held in round-robin fashion among member restaurants raised funds for University of New Mexico scholarships. They were a focal point for educating the community about Chinese food and traditional customs.

Small in number, the Chinese American community was very close and the Alliance enlisted students from the University of New Mexico (UNM) and the College of St. Joseph, as well as military personnel at Kirtland Air Force Base.  Numbers increased when membership was opened to women in 1974.  From 1989-1994, Carolyn Chan was the first woman to helm the Albuquerque Lodge.

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Nancy Gee, Norman Mineta & Carolyn Chan

In April, 2001, Nancy Gee, who had left Albuquerque as a teenager, returned from California as the first female Grand President, to help Albuquerque Lodge celebrate its 40th anniversary.  Steven Lee, the first child of a past lodge president to lead Albuquerque Lodge, hosted the biennial national convention in 1999 while Nancy Gee was serving as national Grand Vice President.  Concurrently, we hosted the national A.S.I.A. (Asian Students in Action) conference.  All of our members stepped up to the plate to make the entire convention a phenomenal success.

 

Revitalization Begins

 Although membership often ebbed, the Albuquerque Lodge brought the Albuquerque Chinese School under the umbrella of the lodge in the 1980’s.  Albuquerque Lodge increased lodge membership by galvanizing support for the school from all Chinese American organiz

ations in the city and

supportive non-Asians to perform and work at food and cultural booths at “Zhong Xiu, A Chinese Moon Festival,” attended by 12-15,000 people each summer.

 

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Performances at our own Chinese New Year celebrations and observances of Asian Pacific American Month have heightened visibility and collaboration with other Asian American organizations, governmental agencies and educational entities: Veterans Administration, the national convention for Literacy Volunteers of America, the regional convention of the American Council for International Visitors, the Father’s Day Celebration of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, and the Human Rights Day and Martin Luther King Day celebrations.  “A Night of Chinese Music” for UNM’s Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, and the grand opening of “From the Land of Dragons” exhibit of dinosaur bones from China for the NM Museum of Natural History in 1989. Dancers have performed at the United Nations Day celebrations, Magnifico, Festival of the Arts. The Youth Lion Dance Troupe even won a second place award for best float in its category in a downtown Christmas parade in the early years of revitalization.

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An historical display depicting history of  Chinese history in New Mexico since the 1880’s and a performance of traditional dances was well received at the city’s celebration of New Mexico’s 75th Anniversary of Statehood, at Albuquerque’s Convention Center on January 6, 1987. The display is a resource for the Chinese American portion of the 400-yr. history of New Mexico in the State Museum scheduled to open in 2009 in Santa Fe.

Community Partnerships

 

Members of the Alliance have been recognized for their significant contributions to their professional organizations, churches, and many community service organizations.  They serve on community and museum boards, and Mayor-appointed task forces and Federal advisory councils addressing racism, literacy, education, health care issues, services for minorities, arts and culture, and historical preservation.

Many cultural enrichment programs have resulted from C.A.C.A. testimony in support of cultural diversity at public hearings conducted by the State Office of Cultural Affairs and participation on the Heritage Council of the Albuquerque Arts Alliance.  Cultural performances by our Youth Dance Troupe and informative talks and demonstrations by our adults for museums, schools, and government agencies strengthen ties between our adult members and our youth and build bridges among our diverse communities.

The Albuquerque Lodge participates in economic development trips to Albuquerque’s sister city, Lanzhou, Gansu Province, People’s Republic of China.  In July our representative on the Sister Cities Board, Dr. David Hsi, accompanied Mayor Martin Chavez to negotiate for loan placement of a panda for the Albuquerque Zoo.

 

Civic Involvement

 

Albuquerque Lodge encourages members to vote, support and work for the political party and candidates of their choice, and to actively participate and enjoy the privilege of citizenship.  Members provide language assistance for new immigrants and governmental agencies.

In 1999 Albuquerque Lodge set up, at the request of the Office of Civil Rights, a meeting of Asian American organizations to provide community input to OCR and the Department of Energy in their investigation of racial and cultural sensitivity issues at the national labs arising from the Wen Ho Lee case.  Members attended the trial of Dr. Lee, spoke up for fairness, decried racial profiling, provided assistance to the defense team, and garnered community support locally and nationally.

The lodge participated in an e-mail drive to ask New Mexico legislators to support an amendment to place repeal of the 1924 Alien Land Law from the New Mexico Constitution. Defeated in 2000, the measure was restated more clearly and was passed in the general election in 2006.  A letter to the Albuquerque Journal from Dr. David Hsi, lodge president and Rusty Chan, lodge secretary, helped build  support for the repeal.

 

Focus on Youth

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A.S.I.A. Conference Albuquerque 1999

We encourage our youth to participate in the National Essay Contest, art contest, the Walter U. Lum Scholarship competition, and Asian Students in Action (A.S.I.A.) leadership training conference.  We have had national winners in the essay contest and national scholarship competitions.

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The Albuquerque Lodge has reached out to Families with Children from China in a symbiotic relationship – an opportunity to increase our membership while providing an opportunity for their young daughters to develop poise and talent while learning Chinese dances.  Dr. Mamie Chan, one of the first ASIA participants and former youth dancer, is teacher for the Youth Dance Troupe.  A social catalyst for its members, the Albuquerque Lodge has evolved into a community service organization, training youth to take pride in their heritage and creating a legacy of contributing to their development of the communities they eventually call home.

 

Presidents of the Albuquerque Lodge have included Henry W. Gee, Harry Jew, Robert Y. Lee, R. Ph.; Dr. Tony Q. Chan, Capt. Ed Wong, Kit W. Wong, Dr. Simon Kao (professor at the College of St. Joseph), Li Lee Louie, R. Ph.; Herbert Chinn, Dr. Ely Yao, Carolyn H. Chan, T. Steven Lee, CPA; Dr. Richard Ming. CecilyYee, Dr. David Hsi, Rusty Chan and Dr. Siu Wong.