Immigrants

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Winning Nomination

There is nothing that has had a greater impact on Minnesota. Immigrants claimed land from the native people of what is now known as America, and with it opened the future for what would become the United Sates of America and eventually Minnesota.

Past as well as present cannot escape the role immigrants continue to have on shaping Minnesota. Many fur traders, lumberjacks, and miners have come and gone, while laborers of all types now come here seeking those same opportunities and ultimately a better life. Now people arrive to gain a better education and access to great health care along with the tried and true of oh, so many freedoms for themselves, their children, and their children's children. Freedoms can mean a million things, from that of speech and religion to simple attributes such as self-expression and walking down the street without fear.

Immigrants have brought with them new ideas, an eagerness to succeed and cultural flair, all of which positively impact everything from small-town Minnesota to that of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
~Nathan J. Huerkamp, Minneapolis, MN



Runner-up Nominations

Increasing Diversity in Minnesota The East African population has changed Minnesota in various ways:

  • Small businesses
  • Charter Schools
  • They are part of changing South Minneapolis by making it a more peaceful area to live in.
  • They contribute to the economy of the state through their hard work.

~Miski Abdulle, Minneapolis, MN

I am a descendent of German immigrants who came to the Minnesota Territory shortly before it became a state in 1856. My wife is a descendent of Norwegian immigrants who were also in this state when it was an untamed wilderness. These were the people who cleared the big woods of southern Minnesota with hand axes and crosscut saws. Within 20 years they converted this area into one of the richest agricultural regions in the world. They had to face frigid winters, droughts, Indian uprisings, locust plagues, small pox and typhoid fever. They survived and made better lives for themselves and their children, who inherited the substantial farms and small business they had built from nothing. They organized thriving villages and even cities within a few years of their arrival. Almost all of these places still exist and are where most Minnesotans live today. There are other immigrants's stories from other regions of the state and other ethnic groups. Immigrants continue to come to Minnesota to this day and add to the melting pot that forms our state culture and heritage.
~John Steven Davis, Chanhassen, MN

Immigrants migrating to Minnesota have transformed this state from the land of 10,000 Gustafsons, Andersons and Petersons to a land of diversity including people of color, of different religions, different culinary tastes, and diverse opinions.
~Jerome Ingber

Various cultures contributed to the richness of Minnesota.
~John Novak, Fridley, MN

Immigration policies land grants of the 19th century The immigration policies of the 19th-century brought, among others, the Germans, Swedes and Norwegians, and perhaps other northern Europeans, with their unique Reform Christian values of individual accountability to God, rugged individualism, the value of any and all work, respect and high esteem of family, especially women, children, and the elderly, belief in the Bible over the mere human intepretation of law.

I'm a half-Mexican/half-German American, very thankful for the influence of those cultures.
~George R. Velazquez, Elk River, MN

The Strength, Foresight, and Determination of Minnesota's Religious Immigrants The population of the state of Minnesota by immigrants of several religious beliefs has continued to have a profound effect on modern Minnesota life. Notable was Bishop John Ireland's co-operative efforts with the state, the railroads, and European immigrants, and his fervor in providing land for these immigrants and population for the commercial interests of Minnesota. Lutherans, Jews, and many other religious groups brought their customs and skills to Minnesota which continue to enhance our state, especially exemplified in the institutions of higher education for which Minnesota is well known.
~C. Paul Martin, M.D. Marshall, MN

Our immigrant forefathers instilled a strong work ethic, sense of honesty and respect for others that has passed from generation to generation. This is what gives Minnesota its excellent quality of life.
~Marcia St. Hilaire, Fridley, MN


Contents

History

Finding a place

Nominator Nathan Huerkamp of Minneapolis writes, "There is nothing that has had a greater impact on Minnesota.

"Immigrants claimed land from the native people in what is now known as America. Past as well as present cannot escape the role immigrants continue to have in shaping Minnesota. Many a fur trader, lumberjack, and miner have come and gone, while laborers of all types now come here seeking those same opportunities and ultimately a better life.

"Now people arrive to gain a better education and access to health care, along with the tried-and-true of oh, so many freedoms for themselves, their children, and their children's children. Freedom can mean a million things, from that of speech and religion to simple things like self-expression and walking down the street without fear. Immigrants have brought with them new ideas, an eagerness to succeed, and cultural flair, all of which positively impact everything from small-town Minnesota and in Minneapolis and St. Paul."

In recent decades, an increasing number of people have come to Minnesota as refugees from countries torn by war, famine, and political unrest. The family of Saida Hassan, a student at St. Paul's Central High School, for example, came here after fleeing Somalia during its civil war, then spending several years in a refugee camp in Kenya. Hassan moved to Minnesota in 2000. Five years later, she recalled the difficulties of leaving her home in Mogadishu: "That was the hardest thing that I've ever had to do. I mean for a moment I even thought to sneak away and no one would see me and I wouldn't have to go onto that plane." What she found at Central High School was a diverse student body made up of people with life stories similar to her own. "It was amazing to me," she remembered. "I didn't know that there was so much in this world that you could learn about people. I met a girl from Hungary, and we became very good friends...we are from opposite sides [of the world] but still we can come to one place and share it."

"These days, I too know
That if people were to ask me,
What am I doing in this life?
My response is predestined
By the people I was born into:
I walk in life
Because that's what the Hmong people
Used to do. . . .

"I salute the spirit of my communities
And am spending my years
Learning how to read
The shades of their dreams,
Shaping the wave
That will take us all
To a true American shore
Of peace, justice, and equality."
From Pacyinz Lyfoung,
"Walking Manifesto #2"

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