The Marshall Islands happens to have a rather unique past, after its agreement with the US government way back in 1946, when it allowed the US to test nuclear bombs on its atolls. Several decades after this, several natives of the Marshall Islands, also known as the Marshallese have settled down in the US because they were given an option of traveling and settling down in the US for free. Things haven’t really been easy for them, and they often find themselves at a vulnerable state, because they are considered as non-immigrants, and neither are they regarded as citizens of the US, as they cannot get loans or even food stamps for that matter.
Springdale in Arkansas happens to have the second largest population of Marshallese people living in the US, and now they are doing all they can to get employment and make a living in the US. While life has not been easy for people from these islands in a new country like the US, they are proud of their culture and history and make sure that their children are aware of it. They continue to bring some of their culture and tradition to the US while building a life for themselves.
More than 12,000 Marshallese live in northwest Arkansas and nearby cities in Oklahoma and Missouri. Approximately 7,000 Marshallese reside in Springdale, Arkansas, comprising roughly 10% of the city’s population. Many left their island homelands for a number of reasons: lack of employment and educational opportunities, lingering effects of radiation due to nuclear testing, the evident consequences of sea level rise, or simply to join their families in the United States. Given the extant pressures in the Marshall Islands, the population in the region and throughout the state of Arkansas is expected to increase steadily over the next decades.
The Marshallese community in the region is close-knit. Saturdays are often spent celebrating first birthdays and Sundays spent worshiping at church. Men and women actively participate in community sporting events. Softball, volleyball, and basketball tournaments are common, especially when held in conjunction with celebrations like Constitution Day (celebrated in the United States on Memorial Day weekend), Namdrik Day, Jaluit Day, and Bikini Day, among others. Like in the Islands, Marshallese families are large and often 3 generations share the same living space. The majority of the working population is employed in the poultry industry but is becoming increasingly diverse in employment. They pride themselves on helping others in need and are dedicated to retaining their unique culture and traditions.