Punjabi Americans

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Punjabi American
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Philadelphia, Sacramento, New York City, Metro Detroit, Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham, Baltimore-Washington, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, New Jersey, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle
English, Punjabi,[2] Urdu, Hindi
Sikhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Unaffiliated
Related ethnic groups
Indian Americans, Pakistani Americans, Punjabi Mexican Americans
Punjabis in the US by State

Punjabi Americans, are Americans whose ancestry originates wholly or partly in the Punjab, a region in northern South Asia in India and Pakistan. There are over 250,000 Punjabi Americans, many of whom were Sikhs who first settled in California's Central Valley to do agricultural work.


Sikhs have been a part of the American populace for more than 130 years. At the turn of the 19th century, the state of Punjab of British India was hit hard by British practices of mercantilism. Many Sikhs emigrated to the United States and began arriving to work on farms in California. They traveled via Hong Kong to Angel Island, California, the western counterpart to Ellis Island in New York.[3]

"Some Sikhs worked in lumber mills of Oregon or in railroad construction and for some Sikhs, it was on a railway line, which allowed other Sikhs who were working as migrant laborers to come into the town on festival days".

Due to discrimination from Anglo Americans many early Punjabi immigrants in California married Mexican Americans, forming a sizable Punjabi Mexican American community. Punjabi farmers were also able to circumvent laws prohibiting their ownership of property by operating through American bankers.[4]

Role in America[edit]

Most Sikhs started life in America as farm labourers, with many eventually becoming landowners and successful farmers. In 1956, Dalip Singh Saund became the first Asian-American to be elected to the United States House of Representatives. At present Amarjit Singh Buttar is perhaps the only turbaned Sikh who holds elected public office. He was elected in December 2001 to the Vernon, Connecticut Board of Education for a four-year term. He has also been recently selected as the Chairman of the Board. Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana is also of Punjabi descent, as well as Nikki Haley, the current United States Ambassador to the United Nations,[5] and previously the 116th Governor of South Carolina.[6]

Many Punjabi Americans have become successful in technology-related fields. Vinod Dham helped to develop the Pentium processor while Vinod Khosla and Sabeer Bhatia co-founded Sun Microsystems and Hotmail respectively.[7] Aneesh Chopra served as the first Chief Technology Officer of the United States (CTO), appointed by President Barack Obama.

Shahid Khan is a Pakistani-American billionaire businessman and philanthropist from Lahore who is the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL) and Fulham F.C.. As well as Majority investor in WWE's known rival (AEW). As of October 2018, his net worth is $7.4 billion,[8] making him the wealthiest Punjabi American, and South Asian American overall. American EDM duo Krewella are also of Punjabi descent from Pakistan.


  1. ^ US Census Bureau American Community Survey (2009-2013) See Row #62
  2. ^ "Indian Immigrants in the United States". migrationpolicy.org.
  3. ^ The Pioneers, America, "A historical perspective of Americans of Asian Indian origin 1790-1997" 31 October 2006
  4. ^ Bhatia, Sunil. American karma: race, culture, and identity in the Indian diaspora. p. 84 (2007) ISBN 0-8147-9959-0.
  5. ^ "Nikki Haley confirmed as new U.S. envoy to the United Nations". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
  6. ^ Nossiter, Adam (October 22, 2007). "In a Southern U.S. state, immigrants' son takes over". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
  7. ^ Shankar, Ravi (26 August 2010). "Capitol cats". India Today. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  8. ^ Kurt Badenhausen. "Shahid Khan". Forbes.