Minnesota Immigrants: Preserving Culture

Ethnic Organizations

Immigrants who shared cultural heritage and ethnicity began forming organizations to celebrate pride in their shared heritage, identify as a group, support each other, and preserve the culture they shared. These groups helped individuals plan culturally-specific holiday celebrations and teach younger generations about their heritage. They also shared their culture with their wider community.

Social Clubs

Many immigrants formed community clubs once they had arrived here in Minnesota. Some of these groups were based on family or clan, or the region they came from in their homeland. These people may or may not have known each other before emigrating. Many members had shared family and neighbors back home. These groups preserved their shared culture but also helped them celebrate their new American identity.


Fraternal Organizations

Some cultural groups evolved into formalized fraternal organizations. Many of these groups were led by the children of immigrants, or other later generations. Other organizations coalesced around specific family, church, or occupational identities. They played prominent roles in their communities, often helping raise money and awareness for important causes back home

First District Sons of Norway Convention, Duluth, Minnesota
Croatia Independence Supporters at Assumption Hall Catholic School, Hibbing, Minnesota
Nordvasterns Varmlands Forbund 1940, Barrett, Minnesota
Slovene National Benefit Society at Eveleth High School, Eveleth, Minnesota

Heritage Organizations

Certain immigrant groups and their descendants have formed heritage organizations to actively preserve and promote their culture. Organizations like the American Swedish Institute, Hmong Cultural Center, and Polish Cultural Institute and Museum present programs, classes, and educational displays for all to learn. Others are ethnic community-based centers full of resources and ways to share culture and history with younger generations of immigrants. These organizations exist to preserve and celebrate a group's culture internally, as well as share it with the rest of Minnesota and the world.

In the 1970s, Yung Lyun Ko worked for the Korean community with the Korean Association of Minnesota. He helped create the Korean Institute, a school for Korean children of immigrants and adoptive parents, where they learned about Korean language and culture and had social activities. The school and the organization help the Korean community preserve their culture and identity by passing it on to the next generation.

We started talking about that Korean Institute. Why we need that. They sent us and now I explained everything, we need to help the child, you know, understand who are they ... who they are.

– Yung Lyun Ko

Interview with Yung Lyun Ko and Shuk Ko, 1979


To learn more about this exhibit and to get additional resources, use the page links below.