Justin MorkenEthnography Paper Norwegian Background During the 1800’s, a big part of the Norwegian immigrants were families from the rural areas in Norway. Few single people did emigrate from Norway during this time as well; more of them were men then women. Later on in the 1800’s more and more people that were immigrating to the United States were single men from cities in Norway. Every single person however, always had different reason for going to the United States. There were many different reasons for why so many Norwegians left their country to move to the United States. Often time’s people had more then one reason why they decided to leave.
A lot of the early settlers were farmers, so they would often leave to find land in the U. S. , and some of them to Minnesota. One thing that helped open up land for new settlers was the Homestead Act of 1862. This Act would give new settlers land as long as they promised to farm and live on the land for five years. There was also a big difference between Norway and America politically and socially, this also lured in the immigrants to move to the United States.
The Norwegians were forced to live under a very strict social system. They were expected to show signs of respect, in public, to the people who were in the upper class. When they found out that this kind of stuff didn’t go on in the U. S.
, it also appealed the Norwegians to move to America. As far as politically America was a land of freedom and new opportunities. The Norwegians liked that the U. S. was a republic and that the people got to elect certain political officials to put in power. In Norway only an elite group of people were allowed to vote for political powers.
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The possibility of being able to vote was very appealing to the Norwegians. A steady increasing population in Norway also forced a lot of the Norwegians to move to America. Even though there was a higher population, there were not as many jobs for people because a lot of the work was now being done by machines rather than humans. There was also very little land that could be farmed available, much of the land was mountains and trees.
People that did own farmland often times faced crop failures and foreclosures of their farm. This is why many people went to America to seek new jobs and land to farm. Many of the first Norwegian Settlements were in the eastern Mid-West. But they would eventually move westward in Minnesota. There the land was inexpensive, and there was a lot available because of all the treaties made with the Native Americans. Some of the Norwegians that were settled in Minnesota persuaded others to come there by paying for their way to get to the U.
S. The Norwegian settlements in Minnesota occurred all over the state. Most of them were in the southeast though. The biggest three settlements were Goodhue, Fillmore, and Houston counties; over half of the Norwegian immigrants that lived in Minnesota were in these three counties. Settlement also increased after the Civil War, especially in the Red River Valley in northwestern Minnesota. This land came available because of the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux.
Here the Norwegians would settle in the counties of Clay, Marshall, Norman, and Polk. In the 1870’s the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad helped increase some of the migration to the Red River Valley. Because of this Norwegians made up over 30 percent of the population in Polk and Clay counties. This is how I would end up here. I’ve lived in Polk County all my life because my ancestors immigrated to this area in the 1800’s.
In the late 1880’s however, most of the Norwegian migration in Minnesota would shift down toward Minneapolis. As many of the new immigrants were single, coming to America to make money and then return to Norway. There are also a few Norwegian holiday’s that are very fun, and that we don’t have in America. One Norwegian holiday is called “Syttnede Mai,” which means the seventeenth of May; this holiday is a celebration of when Norway broke away from Denmark after being under Danish control for over 400 years.
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The day was May 17, 1814, and this was chosen as the day of celebration and liberation. They have parades with people singing and dancing. There are even a few towns in America that are Norwegian dominated that celebrate this day as well. Another Norwegian holiday is “St.
Hans Often,” which in America means, St. John’s Eve. This day is celebrated in Norway in June on the longest day of the year. Families often have barbecues, and play games and have lotteries, and also have bonfires to celebrate.
The people of Norway think that the bonfires will protect them from evil spirits and witches. Christmas in Norway is also celebrated a little differently then in America. They start celebrating on December 23, and they call it “Lille Julaften,” or Little Christmas Eve. This is the day that the families will put up their Christmas trees and decorate there houses with lights. Another different thing that Norwegians do is some of them go visit the graves of deceased friends and relatives. The meal that is served on Christmas Eve is also different, in the Eastern part of Norway they eat was is called lye fish, or lute fisk, but on the western half they eat lamb ribs which are called Pinnekjott.
After doing my research I have really discovered kind of how I got where I am now. If my ancestors had been from a different country, I might be living in a completely different part of the United States. But it seems like a majority of them came here to start farms, and also have families, and live in freedom.