Minnesota is a land known for its heavy welcome of immigrants. Minnesota has been regarded as a state of immigrants. The first residents, the American Indians, all arrived from different locations and origins. The names of the localities, the waterways and the landmarks around the Minnesota state reflects the waves of immigration that occurred between the 19th and 20th century. Today, immigrants comprise approximately 13% of the Minnesota’s population. In this article, we seek to explore the experiences of the early immigrants in Minnesota. Although there are many immigrants in Minnesota from different locations, this study will focus primarily on the experiences of Hmong, Karen, Latino, Liberian and Somali immigrants.
Land and family were significant assets for the immigrants in the Minnesota state. Particularly, it is important to note that there are different groups of people who took refuge as immigrants in Minnesota (Oestergen, 1981).The Latino community makes up the largest proportion of the foreign-born population living in Minnesota. Approximately 7% of the people living in Hennepin and Ramsey counties are Latino. The Hennepin and Ramsey counties are homes to over 64000 people from the Hmong communities. Approximately 3000 Karen refugees came into Minnesota fleeing the violence and war experienced in Burmese civil war. Finally, the United States became home to Liberian and Somali refugees following the civil wars in their countries. Approximately 32 000 refugees from Somali live in Minnesota since the 1990s. Land was owned by families and the immigrants depended on the transition of the land through family lineages. The inheritance of land from one individual to another was done according to the customs and the cultural beliefs of the people involved. Land was particularly used for settlement and agricultural purposes. Other immigrants could also obtain land through purchasing from other land owners (Oestergen, 1981).
For the first immigrants, getting to Minnesota was the first major challenge they experienced. Even if they possessed the wherewithal to their passage, the journey across the ocean often lasted for numerous weeks in overcrowded and unhealthy conditions. According to Johnson (2014), the immigrants often faced attacks from the other ethnic groups that came into Minnesota. As a result of the difference in ethnicity, Johnson (2014) explains that language barrier became a major challenge especially because most of the immigrants chose to retain their native language. While many modern refugees arrive in the western countries through the use of planes, early refugees used ships with significant proportions of those onboard dying from the strong and cold winds on the ocean. They experienced anxiety and hardships especially in cases where they had to be separated from their relatives whom they had to wait for months if not years to be reunited.
After their arrival in Minnesota, the next major challenge was obtaining a job or a source of livelihood. It is important and worthwhile noting that most immigrants arrived into Minnesota with little education and few assets which made it difficult for them to acquire employment in the cities they were settled. However, most of them had transferable life skills such as farming and carpentry thus making it easier to find employment in the frontier states. Language difficulties even made it difficult to survive in the new land of Minnesota. Since most of the immigrants in Minnesota were not from English-speaking countries, they were required to train themselves to read, write and speak English in order to be in a position to communicate with the residents and other people in Minnesota (Cameron, 2010). Those with a low awareness of English could only secure low-paying employment opportunities while those who were fortunate enough to learn English were in a position to secure themselves well-paying jobs in Minnesota. Language barriers have existed as a major challenge for both the early immigrants as well as the most recent immigrants. The other major concern for the immigrants in Minnesota was money (Cameron, 2010). Becoming fully established in the new home is a common goal of all the immigrants into Minnesota. This means purchasing a home, settling in and making significant contributions to the society in general. As was earlier explained, most arrived in their new homes with few possessions and as such finding it considerably difficult to make ends meet. The numerous cycles of the global economic recessions have made it difficult for these immigrants to attain their American dreams.
In conclusion, although the immigrants in Minnesota are of significant importance to the development of the state, most of them still live under challenging environments several decades since their entry. According to Cameron (2010), immigrants contribute significantly to the growth of the Minnesota’s economy in terms of consuming the products and services from Minnesota, providing labour, paying taxes and revenues and establishing entrepreneurial premises, all which contribute to the development of the state. With this understanding, the community leaders and the state government have a responsibility of ensuring their smooth transition from their original environments to the new Minnesota environment. Specifically, the leaders should put more efforts into learning the ways of life of these people and thus provide them with environments best suited for their transition.
Those known settlers followed herds of large game to the region during the last glacial period. They came with different stiles of living. They introduced in culture in the region. Also, they had new way of ruling. They demanded to have their own leaders who will govern them and show what they were supposed to do. The rail roads that were there in those times, attracted immigrants. They came and ventured in natural resources as well as making farming as their activity. This to some extent boosted the economy and brought goods to the market. The economic development and social changes that they brought them with, led to an expanded role for state government and a population shift rural areas to cities with developments.
There was introduction of technology as a result of immigrants at Minnesota. Since there were mining activities that were taking place in Minnesota city, they involved themselves in those activities in order to get a daily bread. They made the activity of mining simpler by providing and inventing programs that helped the state to work on them efficiently. After the 2nd world war, the Minnesota was fueled by early computer companiesSperry Rand, Control Data and Cray. There were also institutions that were set up becoming the regional centre for arts with cultural institutions.
Around the 19th century, there emerged some towns through the landscape. The town was want to serve Minnesota’s growing agricultural, forestry and mining activities that were taking place in the area. With time. The large communities expanded over wider areas while other smaller communities atrophied. Due to the immigrants coming, there were twin cities and that was in those faster growing parts of the state. This greatly affected the economy of Minnesota city and the immigrants were contributing to the economy(Oestergen, 1981). The change in the economy was positive meaning the immigrants had an idea of business. If the immigrants were properly supported in terms of the project, then they would have brought totally different and sound effects to the society.
By the end of the 2nd world war.the younger Minnesotas started moving back to the twin cities area from other parts of the state or were forced to move out of the states in search of employment. At the end of 21st century, the only about one –third of Minnesotas resided in rural areas and about and about two-fifths of this group were age 65 and other above the age. The population densities between the southern and eastern parts of the Minnesota are greatest and then decline when approaching towards the north and west. The population pulsation, growth since the late 20th century has occurred many among the foregn-bron population.
The exploitation of Minnesota was relatively related to the exploitation of its primarynatural resources: soils, timber. Iron ore and timber that in turn stimulated the growth of such ancillary activities as railroad building, natural resource processing and agricultural implement manufacturing. During the late 1960s and early 1970s,these began to decline, and service-related industries started to flourish. Agriculture, however remains one of the Minnesota’s major industries
Today, Minnesota has invested a lot in agriculture, forestry and fishing. Virtually, all priaries had been cultivated by the turn of the 20th century.That coniferous forestland thehad ben cleared, today has been covered again again through forestation that has been carried out by Minnesota immigrant people. This has contributed to the beauty and physical look of Minnesota. The most valuable and productive farmland of Minnesota lies across the southern quarter of the state , with mosts areas having fertile prairie soils and hot,humid summer weather where some crops like corn and soybeans can do well in such areas(Johnson, 2014). Small grains and specialty crops thrive in the Red River valley, where the growing season is shorter and the humidity is lower than in southern Minnesota. The major crops grown here include wheat, hay, sugar beets and barley.
Also as time went by, the immigrants of Minnesota realized there was need to start fishing. Mostly, the fishing activities took place in Lake Superior but a reduced population of fish led to its decline in the late 20th century. Still, Lake Superior trout and whitefish are available in modest volume, and herring is abundant but less popular. There came a time when there was a ban but the ban was lifted later following a restocking effort. Sport fishing is popular in the states major streams and rivers.
With continued lack of job os the Minnesota immigrants, they saw it was good to come up with industries. About three-fourths of Minnesotans are employed in the service industry. The unemployment of Minnesotan was brought about by lack of education. The industrialization has seen other sectors to grow in the town and other urban areas. The lack of jobs by the immigrants led them to have ideas of how to keep up with the standards of living. (Cameron, 2010)
Cameron, L. (2010). The Minnesota Immigrant Experience. Common threads, 97-105.
Johnson, D. L (2014) Listening to the Pierie Swedish American Geologist 24 (1)5-8
Oestergen, R.C (1981). Land and family in rural immigrant communities, Annals of the association of American Geographers, 71 (3), 400-411