Part of Minnesota's immigrant history.: Becoming Minnesotan

Male silhouette.
  • Name - Mohamed Jama
  • Age at interview - 27
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - First Generation American / Refugee
  • Date of Interview - 06.21.2004
  • Girl at Somali Culture Family Day, Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, 2004.

    We Are Here

    Community, Freedom, Identity, Somali

    Essential Question

    We Are Here: What does it mean to this immigrant group to be here in America?

    Cultural Preservation: How does a person weave his or her traditional culture into a new American identity?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Somalia has experienced much violence and warfare since its government collapsed in 1991. Starting in 1992, the U.S. began welcoming Somali refugees and placing throughout the country.  Somalis began arriving in Minnesota in early 1993, and have continued to arrive in large numbers since.  Most Somalis have been grateful for the opportunity to escape the violence and provide a better life for their children in the U.S.  Historically, immigrants have come from all over the world to settle in Minnesota and have started businesses, farmed, and found success in other activities, too. For this reason, Somalis often see America as a place where any person can succeed, and where they can pursue opportunities that they would not have had in war-torn Somalia.

    To learn more about Somali history and culture, visit our Somali Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Mohamed M. Jama 6
    1:31 Minutes | 1.46Mb


    Narrator: Mohamed M. Jama (MJ)

    Interviewers: Bibi Abdalla (BA) and Andy Wilhide (AW)

    BA:  Do you consider Minnesota or the U.S. to be your home?

    MJ:  Now, yes. It is my home.

    BA:  Why?

    MJ:  Why? Oh, come on, I was given an opportunity where I can better myself and have a better life, believing what I want to believe in. No one interferes with me. It’s my home. I’m planning on buying a house! Minnesota and the U.S. is my home. I was very welcomed, and they allow me to have different opportunities.

    BA:  Do you think of your story as a part of Minnesota history?

    MJ:  Yes. Minnesota has an immigrant history, so I’m a part of that flow in immigrants in here. 

    AW: Do you think that Somalis will stay?

    MJ:  I know I will stay for long, yes. I’m not a different generation of Somalis, but we already have in my family, my sister already gave birth, those are the first generation of Somalis in this state. So, hopefully, by the time I’m thirty-five, I’m going to have nephews and nieces who are the second generation of Somalis here. We’re here for a long, long time, and we’re here to be deep rooted in this culture and this society.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Verb:  To improve; to encourage to succeed.  (betters, bettering, bettered)


    Noun:  The arts, customs, and habits that characterize a particular society or nation.


    Noun:  1. A period of around thirty years, the average amount of time before a child takes the place of its parents.  2. A group of people who are of approximately the same age.


    Noun:  A person who comes to a country to permanently settle from another country.


    Verb:  To meddle; to become involved when it is not appropriate.  (interferes, interfering, interfered)


    Noun:  A chance for advancement, progress, or profit.


    Noun:  The people of one’s country or community taken as a whole.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 553