The Marshallese in Arkansas and other unexpected diasporas


84 Responses to “The Marshallese in Arkansas and other unexpected diasporas”

  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s SpringDALE, not SpringFIELD, Arkansas.

    There have been stories on the local tv news and in the papers about problems with the Marshallese living 18-24 people in a 2-bedroom house, including one story where a child taken to the hospital covered in mouse bites ( and after living in a dirty house with 22 other people.

    Stories like that aren’t uncommon.

    It doesn’t sound like the move to Springdale has been good for the Marshallese, especially since Northwest Arkansas has a bustling economy, even now (just named #2 best place in nation to ride out the recession by Forbes mag).

  2. Anonymous says:

    Malawians in South Bend, Indiana
    Lots of Basques in Boise, Idaho as well as other places mentioned
    Armenians in Glendale, California

  3. Beanolini says:

    There’s apparently a large Welsh (and/or Welsh-speaking) community in Argentina.

  4. yannish says:

    Yes, I have seen the Mennonites in belize, I was flabbergasted as it was the last thing I expected to see. Apparently they are not as strict clothing wise as the Penn amish

  5. Anonymous says:

    The Amish also have a significant community in northern Mexico (IIRC). In fact, Mexico has a number of interesting subcommunities, including red-haired descendants of Cornish miners and a sizable northern European population. German and Swiss brewers kept several kinds of Vienna lagers alive in Mexico while the style died out in Europe.

  6. dmabury says:

    One correction: Per the linked article, the Marshallese are in Springdale rather than Springfield.

    Springdale is part of the odd little Northwest Arkansas metroplex, where four small Ozark cities have sprawled into each other. It includes Fayetteville, home of the University of Arkansas, and Bentonville, home of Wal-Mart Stores.

    There’s a large Hispanic contingent thanks to Tyson and the only synagogue in a skillion miles thanks to Wal-Mart:

  7. Anonymous says:

    Samoans in Kansas city ,Mo / Indiapolis , IN / Fairbanks , AK / Tampa , FL / Fort Bragg , NC / Topeka , KS / Atlanta , GA /

  8. poshhonky says:

    As a native Arkansan, I have to admit I’ve been enlightened. In fact, I used to live in northwest Arkansas and never knew about this. I imagine they’re far outnumbered by the, um, Mexican diaspora by now. BTW, it’s Springdale, not Springfield.

  9. Anonymous says:

    There are hundreds if not thousands of Burmese and Laotian immigrants in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

  10. Neon Tooth says:

    Turtle: Really dudes? Can you let me go now?

    As a former Arkansan, I’m glad to hear it. That place could surely use *some* kind of diversity.

  11. Anonymous says:

    #20, I think it’s more accurate to say that there is a small settlement of gringos in those cities. A lot of hispanic families in the southwest US have been there since before the Mexican-American War. At least that’s true in the San Luis valley of Colorado. There are family farms there that got their land deeds from the Spanish colonial government.

  12. Takuan says:

    lessee, “civilization” shows up, sets off some hydrogen bombs and then lectures the natives about not eating turtles because it’s mean? Or better yet: “bad for the environment”?

  13. testpattern says:

    There is a rather large Vietnamese and Laotian population in small towns in South Central Louisiana.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Springdale also has a decent sized Laotian population as well. For some reason I thought the reason they were there was because the government picked the place for them. Reminds me of an article that I think was on BoingBoing in ’04.

  15. Neon Tooth says:

    lessee, “civilization” shows up, sets off some hydrogen bombs and then lectures the natives about not eating turtles because it’s mean? Or better yet: “bad for the environment”?

    Spare me the self righteous history lesson and scare quotes about civilization. I wasn’t “lecturing” anybody on anything, in fact I was just *joking* about how bummed the turtle looks in that picture. I’m not some environmental/animal rights fanatic. Yeesh, get off your high horse.

  16. DWittSF says:

    Is Apu Marshallese?

  17. Osprey101 says:

    There is a enclave of Mexicans that has populated Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area.

  18. Takuan says:

    lousy turtle lover

  19. The Unusual Suspect says:

    Iron Mountain, Michigan, off U.S. Highway 2 in the Upper Peninsula, is home to descendants of Cornish miners who emigrated to the U.S. in the 1880s to work the mines there.

    It’s probably the only place in the U.S. where you can buy a Cornish pastie at the 7-11.

    Fatla genes, Iron Mountain?

  20. Anonymous says:

    There is a large Kurdish population here in Nashville, Tennessee.

  21. Anonymous says:

    This is evidently where they got the idea for that X-Files episode.

  22. Anonymous says:

    More Tongans reside in the Hurst/Euless/Bedford region of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metromess than in any where else in the world besides Tonga.

  23. bwcbwc says:

    Urban Mennonites in Puerto Rico. I believe it’s mostly a missionary presence from the US.

  24. philipb says:

    A company I worked for had a small diaspora of Laotians on our assembly lines. One had been hired and proved to be an excellent worker. She introduced us to relatives & friends who were also very reliable staff. Before long our entire production line was from Laos! If any of them was sick or needed a day off a replacement would automatically show up to cover for them.

    Thanksgiving was fun, they’d bring delicious traditional dishes for us to share.

  25. aeon says:

    Somalis in Cardiff, South Wales. First as crew for merchant ships, a later more recent wave as refugees joining their established countrymen.

    Poles in Swindon in the south west of England as refugees after WWII. Many had been based locally during the war and imported their families after, or they relocated to Swindon from a refugee camp at nearby RAF Fairford after the war.

    The same town has a smaller but noted Italian community. I was told that it originated when POWs released on parole to assist on farms during WWII decided to stick around when hostilities ended.


    And don’t forget the Hutterite diaspora to North America, and all of their anabaptist fellows. You can read about Hutterites here:

  27. Lester says:

    Hey Takuan (#17), getting nuked doesn’t justify turtle abuse.

    Although, it might explain the desire to lash out at turtles, I guess.

    In any case, I’d imagine the nuke-ers and the turtle rights people are two, separate groups of Westerners.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Would Pitcairn Islands count? Need some more examples of non American (N and S) diasporas ;)

  29. Takuan says:

    dinner is abuse? talk to your cow.

  30. adamnvillani says:

    Koreans and Greeks in Central Asia:

    Canadian-Portuguese singer Nelly Kim Furtado was named after Soviet gymnast Nellie Kim, whose father was an ethnic Korean living in Tajikistan and whose mother was a Tatar.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Sorry we nuked your island. You still cannot have US citizenship. See: Philippines.

  32. Takuan says:

    hey, how about them Uighurs?

  33. scruss says:

    There are many Prussian-Ukrainian-Argentinian Mennonites in southern Ontario. Originally forced to leave Prussia in the 19th century, they settled in Ukraine, only to be uprooted again in the early-mid 20th. Many settled in south and central America, then moved up to Ontario to farm in the late 20th century.

    Hence you have folks with German names who speak Spanish, drink yerba mate, and make fantastic pierogies.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Largest Afgani population outside of Afganistan is in Fremont California (centerville). Bigups Little Kabul.

  35. daemonsquire says:

    @ anonymous, #44, about the Hmong general who “has attempted to stage a couple of revolutions”, I think you may be referring to Vang Pao. He’s from Laos, whose government he was allegedly plotting to overthrow, and I think he’s part of the Hmong ex-pat community based in Fresno (which I think may have the 2nd largest Hmong population in America, to Minneapolis. Or vice versa).

  36. Dan Freeman says:

    The largest population of expat Japanese is in Brazil of all places, and I believe the same holds true in Japan (largest population of expat Brazilians).

    Wiki here:
    …and an interesting article about some of the issues Brazilians face in Japan:

  37. Anonymous says:

    I love these surprising groups. A couple I am personally familiar with:

    Tongans in mid-cities Dallas-Fort Worth area, as mentioned before. The church in Euless I attended as a kid had one (probably 1/4 Tongan) English-speaking congregation and 3 Tongan-speaking congregations.

    Basque in the Great Basin, as also mentioned. Boise has a large Basque community and some great restaurants and community centers.

    And I’m pretty sure the proper designation is that of a large, Anglo presence throughout the Southwest. Did you know that they are responsible for most of the crime in the area? Shocking what’s happened to these neighborhoods.

  38. Takuan says:

    follow me:

    I’ve swam with green turtles and snuck up behind them to tap them on the shoulder. Never rode them as some did, too disrespectful – and a good way to lose a finger if your grip was wrong. The local fishermen would leave the odd one on the dock, belly up, all day and gut it out later after it had weakened. I’m not sure if they cut the throat first or not. I watched one old guy from a distance, pulling handfuls of intestines out and turning his head to heave every now and then. Never tried the meat. The man who taught me to spearfish and live through freediving alone on the open sea told me of once spearing a turtle. “It screamed like a woman”. He never hunted them after that.

    The clean and brutal fact is that if you live on an island you eat what you can get. The odd turtle I saw missing a shark-bitten limb was also a reminder that you were potential dinner too.

  39. dculberson says:

    Columbus, Ohio has had a fair number of Somali immigrants over the last few years. Exact numbers are hard to come by, but the generally quoted number is around 35,000. Some recent re-statements of that have said it is probably closer to 15,000. In either case, it’s a lot, but not a huge portion of the population in a 1.7 million+ smsa.

    Unfortunately, like any waves of immigrants, they have encountered a lot of xenophobia and racism. Any single crime is credited by bigots to the group as a whole. But overall I think the community has welcomed them (perhaps that’s naive wishful thinking, though).

    It’s hard to reconcile a privileged white person complaining about the “costs” incurred in helping a Somali immigrant that is escaping oppression, rape, and death. Like it’s not worth some tax money to help an entire community that’s trying to start over from scratch in a foreign land. I just have to mutter to myself “dey took arr jerbs!” as a way to calm down.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Someone above said that Walmart is thank for the presence of a synagogue in Fayetteville, Ark. My understanding is that the presence of the state’s largest university was draw and center of the Jewish community in NWA. Walmart’s HQ had nothing to do with it.

  41. girasol369 says:

    Ethiopians in Washington DC…

  42. Anonymous says:

    the Mennonites also make up most of the population of the Paraguayan Chaco.

  43. Anonymous says:

    They will eat the turtle. Stop eating turtle please!

  44. Anonymous says:

    Serbians on Tierra Del Fuego.

    In Oregon we have enclaves of Russian Old Believers in Woodburn, and Basques in the great basin country.

    I am sure there are Tamil groups in far flung places like Sweden.


    Here’s a selection of diasporas, although I’m not sure if these fall under the exact definition of that term:,_Manitoba

    Gimli has some decent beaches!

  46. Anonymous says:

    There was a sizable Afrikaans community in Patagonia started after the Boer war

  47. Anonymous says:

    Lots of Belizeans live in Louisiana.

  48. GuidoDavid says:


    There are Somalis in Minneapolis too, you made me remember that. In 2007, I even saw public transport instructions in English and Somali in the train that goes from downtown to the Airport.

    And there were a lot of Somalis in the Mall of America too. It was a bit odd to see black women in hiyab and chador in front of a giant model of Paul Bunyan. Eerily refreshing.

  49. Neon Tooth says:

    lousy turtle lover

    I do hear that turtle soup’s good eatin’, but I’d never condone making love to a turtle.

  50. The Unusual Suspect says:

    There are some 150,000 Tamils living here in Toronto, reportedly the largest Tamil community outside of India and Sri Lanka.

  51. caillean says:

    Lowell, MA is home to the 2nd largest group of Cambodians in the USA.,_Massachusetts#Demographics

  52. okcalvin says:

    Samoans in Lawton, Oklahoma.

    Some joined US Army, brought families over.

    Roofing crew of Samoans put new roof on the ed bldg of the church I pastor on cold & windy winter day. All were linebacker big. And sang the sweetest Samoan hymns, in parts. Wow.

  53. Takuan says:

    “Take a large calf’s head. Scald off the hair. Boil it until the horn is tender, then cut it into slices about the size of your finger, with as little lean as possible. Have ready three pints of good mutton or veal broth, put in it half a pint of Madeira wine, half a teaspoonful of thyme, pepper, a large onion, and the peel of a lemon chop’t very small. A ¼ of a pint of oysters chop’t very small, and their liquor; a little salt, the juice of two large onions, some sweet herbs, and the brains chop’t. Stand all these together for about an hour, and send it up to the table with the forcemeat balls made small and the yolks of hard eggs”

  54. adamnvillani says:

    Lowell, MA is home to the 2nd largest group of Cambodians in the USA.

    #1 is Long Beach, California, my hometown, not Huntington Beach, as one commenter mistakenly remembered.

    There’s a small contingent of Molokans (sort of the Russian Orthodox equivalent of Mennonites) who settled around Boyle Heights and elsewhere around the Eastside of Los Angeles about 100 years ago.

  55. Halloween Jack says:

    There’s a large and influential Lebanese population in Peoria, Illinois. US Secretary of Transportation (and former long-time US Representative) Ray LaHood is one; there’s also a local dentist named Floyd Rashid, whose sign I see regularly.

  56. Takuan says:

    diaspora has a specific meaning, it’s not quite the same as immigration.

  57. Anonymous says:

    Besides the Somali, Minneapolis is also has Hmong and Ethiopian communities.

    In fact, as somebody mentioned above, you’ll see a lot of public signage printed in English, Hmong, Somali, and Spanish.

    My understanding is that all these groups started out as refugee placements. I’m not sure whether Minneapolis is just a very friendly city for newcomers, or whether the person at the US State Department in charge of finding homes for refugees from hot climates has a sick sense of humor.

    Interestingly, I’ve heard (but have no idea whether it’s true) that there’s an older Hmong guy who used to be a general in Vietnam and who has attempted to stage a couple of revolutions against the current Vietnamese government from his living room in Golden Valley.

  58. seandavid010 says:

    The city of Esmeraldas in Ecuador is really quite interesting. Many years ago a slave ship en route from Africa ran aground where the Esmeraldas river meets the ocean, and the slaves escaped, killing most of the crew. They established a small settlement there, which has since grown to a rather large city of nearly 200,000 inhabitants, the majority of which are Afro-Ecuadorian. I lived there for nearly a year in 2000, and was (almost) the only white person in the entire city.

  59. Anonymous says:

    Top cities (proportionately) for those born in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2000:

    1. West Buechel, KY (housing, pop. 1,301): 16.6%
    …which is made upeveral other large groups as well.
    Then supposedly 1% of the population of Nashville is supposedly now of Kurdish descent (This year’s U.S. census, unfortunately, has been downsized to the point that we will have no way of knowing.)

    Hamtramck, Michigan is populated mostly by people of Arabic, Slavic and East Indian descent.

    Then there’s the Hmong in Wausau, WI

    I hear Bloomington Indiana has a lot of Tibetans.

    Here is a list of the top cities for each country in 2000 (you can find a number of other even more surprise diasporas there):
    Far far to many to mention. Just scroll a bit over (1/3)rd down

  60. Anonymous says:

    #35-when he said great basin country, what he meant was HOLY CRAP, RENO! There is a giant Basque monument near the ‘N’ painted on the mountain for the University of Nevada, Reno.

    Anyone who’s ever gotten lost in a herd of sheep on their way to Burning Man has also come across the strangeness of having a huge Basque population. Or had a classmate confide “so my parents are trying to hook me up with my cousin…”

  61. mpb says:

    “Unexpected” can mean a number of things.

    former Yugoslavia (Albanians, Montenegro, Macedonia)in Bethel, Alaska

    Samoans and American Samoans in Anchorage, Alaska

    Old Believers (Russia) in southern Alaska

    Koreans in Bethel, Alaska

    recently Hmong, Sudanese, Somali relocating to Anchorage

  62. Anonymous says:

    Toronto has a large population of Maltese, Australia also has a large population of Maltese probably in Melbourne or Sydney.

  63. teapot7 says:

    Takuan at #17 writes:

    > lessee, “civilization” shows up, sets off some hydrogen bombs and then lectures the natives about not eating turtles because it’s mean?

    well yeah – if you want to group millions of different people’s actions over many decades into one word, “civilization”, go right ahead.

  64. wellvis says:

    There is a sizable Hmong community in and around Appleton, Wisconsin (approximately 5 percent of the population).

  65. cognitive dissonance says:

    Boston’s north shore, upwards to Lowell and NH is home to a huge, huge Cambodian population. Second only to Hunnington Beach I think.

  66. Anonymous says:

    In Hawaii you could go to jail for abusing a Sea Turtle like that.

  67. arbitraryaardvark says:

    #68 got here ahead of me. There are more Pitcairners on Norfolk Island than on Pitcairn.
    Norfolk considers itself an independent part of the British commonwealth, but Austrailia considers it Australian, so there’s some tension. An interesting thing about Pitcairners is they all speak english, but also have a second language which combines english sailor slang and polynesian elements and some things that are just local island jargon.

  68. GuidoDavid says:

    There seem to be a lot of Venezuelans going to Montreal in the last five years.

  69. Takuan says:

    no, no, not at all. Just you.

  70. Ignatz says:

    @Takuan: mock-turtle soup recipe FTW! Is that from the Martha Washington cookbook, or some other contemporary source?

    Out here in St. Louis, we’ve had several waves of immigrants coming into contiguous neighborhoods. The Vietnamese have settled in the South Grand neighborhood, while Bosnians and Serbs have moved into Bevo Mill immediately to the south and west. Immediately south of South Grand is turning into an enclave for Somali Bantus, and south of that, the Carondelet neighborhood has a growing northern Mexican population. So you get nuoc mam, mole poblano and cevapci in the same grocery store. Then there’s the Vietnamese Buddhist temple, the Catholic church with three Spanish masses daily, and the mosque all within literal shouting distance of each other. There have been some conflicts here and there, but mostly we all get along.

  71. Jay Acker says:

    what are they doing to that poor turtle?

  72. dofnup says:

    I am originally from northwestern Mexico and it is quite common to buy fresh dairy products from the Mennonites there. Their fresh cheese is the tastiest!

    So, when I was briefly living in Belize and we went to visit the Mennonite community, I was not at all surprised or puzzled by their presence there! It seemed pretty normal to me.

    You mean to tell me there aren’t Mennonite communities in the rural areas of every region? This explains a LOT! XD

  73. Takuan says:

    can’t remember (maybe just wiki?), this is cool though:

  74. girasol369 says:

    There was an exodus of Confederates to Brazil during/after the US Civil War. They are still a fairly distinct community there.

  75. BastiaanS says:

    Some interesting comunities:

    Tibetans in Switserland (3500)
    Lipka Tatars in Poland and Lithuania
    Moluccans in the Netherlands
    Burghers (Dutch) in Sri Lanka
    Portugese in Hawai’i
    Jewish community of Antwerp
    Javanese in Surinam

  76. Anonymous says:

    In Mexico it is a federal offense to mistreat a sea turtle like that. Also, the Marshallese began migrating to Springdale in the 1970s and then again in the mid 1990s.

  77. Anonymous says:

    Just for you, Takuan.

    “Beautiful Soup, so rich and green,
    Waiting in a hot tureen!
    Who for such dainties would not stoop?
    Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
    Beautiful Soup!
    Beautiful Soup!
    Soup of the evening,
    Beautiful, beautiful Soup!

    Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,
    Game, or any other dish?
    Who would not give all else for two
    Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?
    Beautiful Soup!
    Beautiful Soup!
    Soup of the evening,
    Beautiful, beautiful soup!”

  78. Anonymous says:

    I just wanted to offer a small correction – I’m relatively sure that you mean the town of Springdale, not Springfield (Springdale is the home of Tyson’s chicken, Springfield is two hours away in Missouri). I used to work at the Springdale library, and it made me happy that the Springdale Marshallese community got a mention on Boing Boing!

  79. Celestyna says:

    Atlas Obscura sounds awesome.
    This reminded me of the
    Melungeon peoples down here in the Southeast.
    Their origins are still a bit unknown and always up to some fun legends.

  80. Anonymous says:

    The eastern suburb of Kingsford in Sydney, Australia is home to one of the largest communities of former inhabitants of the now almost empty island of Kastelorizo.

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