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Bhagat Singh Thind

Bhagat Singh Thind was an Indian independence activist, immigrant to the United States, and World War I veteran. His quest for naturalization is a key part of the long struggle to remove racial barriers to U.S. citizenship. Born in India, he migrated to Seattle in 1913, seeking economic and educational opportunities. He joined other Punjabis, facing racial discrimination and violence. Thind engaged in labor activism and joined the Ghadar Party, advocating against British colonial rule. During World War I, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, becoming the first turbaned American soldier. Despite his service, citizenship challenges arose due to his race. Thind applied twice, arguing he should be considered white. Initially granted in Oregon, the U.S. Supreme Court later revoked it in 1923. The decision impacted many Indians, highlighting the fluidity and consequences of racial definitions. Thind regained citizenship in 1935 and later became a philosopher and Sikh religion lecturer until his death in 1967.


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