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New Americans in North Dakota


Immigrants make up a growing share of North Dakota’s population. The percentage of immigrants in the state nearly doubled between 1990 and 2013, from 1.5 percent to 2.7 percent. About a third of the immigrants in North Dakota are naturalized citizens. Nearly 22,000 North Dakotans are Latino or Asian. The top countries of origin are Canada, India, and Mexico. One interesting statistic: in 2013, almost 60 percent of North Dakota’s Master’s and PhD graduates in STEM fields were foreign born.

This is nothing new, as North Dakota has long welcomed immigrants. The Germans from Russia, who began coming in the late 1800s, may be North Dakota’s best known immigrant group.

On this date in 1912, the Bismarck Tribune expressed concern about immigration. The article stated that North Dakotans were in favor of stemming the tide of immigrants. There was a sense that some areas were burdened as they helped immigrants adjust and get settled, while other areas of the country had little to do with immigrants.

The newspaper urged the Federal government to develop a plan for better distribution of immigrants and said Canada’s immigrant program should be used as a model. The Canadian government made an effort to move new immigrants out of cities and settle them throughout the countryside. This prevented cities from being overwhelmed by large numbers of immigrants and also helped more sparsely settled communities by increasing their population.

The newspaper said that, in contrast, the United States government took no role in settling immigrants, who subsequently went wherever they pleased. This resulted in immigrants becoming stranded in big cities, where some became destitute and poverty stricken. Many of the immigrants came from rural areas, and the Tribune pointed out that they would be better suited to living outside the nation’s cities. By scattering the immigrant population throughout the country, the newspaper stated that “they may not only better themselves but become productive factors in the development of our natural resources.”

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher


Bismarck Daily Tribune. “Educating the Immigrant.” 19 January, 1912.

American Immigration Council. “New Americans in North Dakota.” "https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/new-americans-north-dakota" https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/new-americans-north-dakota Accessed 14 December, 2016.

Germans from Russia Heritage Collection. North Dakota State University. "https://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/history_culture/index.html" https://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/history_culture/index.html Accessed 14 December, 2016.

Map the Impact. “Map the Impact.” "http://www.maptheimpact.org/state/north-dakota/" http://www.maptheimpact.org/state/north-dakota/ Accessed 14 December, 2016.