South Sudanese American

South Sudanese Americans
Total population
More than 100,000[1]
Regions with significant populations
mainly in Omaha, New York City, Detroit, Des Moines, Alexandria, Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Diego.
Christians and Practitioners of traditional South Sudan´s religions.

South Sudanese Americans are Americans of South Sudanese ancestry or a South Sudanese who has American citizenship. South Sudanese Americans can include children born in United States to South Sudanese and Americans (or of other origin) parents and to both South Sudanese parent. According former Amabassador Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth (Head of Mission in Washington DC for Southern Sudan), in United States live more than 100,000 southern Sudanese,[1] whose ancestors (or they) have emigrated from their native country to the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s mainly. Many South Sudanese emigrated to United States since the 1990s as war refugees, escaping of civil war in Sudan and of the refugee camps in Africa.


First people that migrated to the U.S. from South Sudan arrived to this country, at least, since the mid-1980s as a result of the civil wars in Sudan, settling down in places such as Chicago.[2]

This migration continued in the 90s, when some South Sudanese were established in other places such as Maine (settling them eventually in cities such as Portland and Lewiston),[3] Des Moines (Iowa),[4] and Omaha, Nebraska (city where in 1998 were already established under 1200 people[5] and that, eventually, would become in the main population core of this group).[6] In 2000, the U.S. Department of State decided to take also some South Sudanese to the United States that were refugees of war in other countries. So, in 2001 they came to the United States a group of young South Sudanese refugees (in his mostly of the Nuer and Dinka ethnic groups [7]), who were called the Lost Boys of the Sudan, a group that was established since that year.[2] Approximately 3800 Lost Boys were allowed to resettle in the United States in 2001.[7] These young mobilize the South Sudanese community of the cities forming an South Sudanese association and increasing its visibility in the city (at that time they were not very visible). They were brought children war refugees from South Sudan to parts of the United States, such as in nearby of Michigan, Chicago[2] or Omaha, dispersed for 38 cities. So, since 2006, the largest population of South Sudanese refugees in the United States is in Omaha, which had then about 7,000 people [8] (now have over 9,000 people[1])


Places of origin and settlement

Since the early 1990s, more than 20,000 Sudanese refugees have been resettled in the United States, with about a fifth of that population constituting the so-called “Lost Boys”, i.e., young Nuer and Dinka refugees.[9]

According former Amabassador Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth (Head of mission in Washington DC, for Southern Sudan), in United States live more than 100,000 southern Sudanese,[1] amongst them over 30,000 are refugees who were settled in United States since the war broke out in 1983,[10] living mainly in Omaha, Nebraska, where living over 9,000 South Sudanese.[1] Refugees from South Sudan come from the three geographical regions: the Bahr el Ghazal, the Upper Nile, and Equatoria (to this last place belongs Juba, the capital of country).[11]

According the 2000 census, the largest Sudanese communities (whether from North or South Sudan, as the 2000 US census not divide the two groups because in that year even these two countries formed one) were New York City, Detroit, Des Moines (Iowa),[12] Alexandria (Virginia), Los Angeles and San Diego.

Sudanese Americans communities also are found in others cities such as Greensboro, NC, Dallas, TX, Flint, MI, Washington Metropolitan Area and many other cities. So, according this census, the states of Virginia, Washington, Maryland, California, Idaho, Minnesota and North Carolina have the largerst Sudanese populations of United States.[3] So, many Lost Boys of Sudan live in North Carolina.[13]

Specifically South Sudanese communities are found in Omaha,[8] Anchorage (Alaska),[14] Detroit, Des Moines (Iowa),[4] Alexandria (Virginia), San Diego (where lived about of 1,000 South Sudaneses in 2011),[10] Portland and Lewiston (Maine),[3] Nashville (Tennessee), and in Phoenix (Arizona),[1] independently of that these cities have (or haven´t) the largest, specifically, South Sudanese communities. In Maine living 17 Sudanese tribes (with around 2,000 Sudanese and South Sudanese, between them, the South Sudanese Acholi tribe.[3] While, there is said also to be more than 30 different tribes from Sudan in Maine[9]).

So, since 1997, many South Sudanese people live in Omaha, Nebraska,[6][8] city that have, already since 2006, the largest South Sudanese community in the United States, since it is a city that has job opportunities, low cost of living and an already established Sudanese community in which they can join the new South Sudanese refugees. Many Sudanese residents in this city opened grocery stores which sell traditional Sudanese food. Albeit, the number of South Sudanese refugees who emigrated to Omaha has decreased due to the official end of the civil war in Sudan as of July 2012. Although South Sudanese continue to travel to Omaha because the South Sudanese community existing there as well as by laborale opportunities and affordable housing.[6] Moreover, when the economy fell in Nebraska, many South Sudanese from there migrated to other places such as Anchorage, Alaska, where living about 1,000 people of South Sudanese origin and was created a South Sudanese school that teaches the Nuer language their students, so that this South Sudanese language is not lost in United States, although many South Sudanese Americans only speak English.[14]

Work and education

South Sudanese refugee came to United States fleeing religious and political persecution, warfare, and starvation, produced basically by the Sudanese Civil War.[11] Many Sudanese or South Sudanese came to America also for educational and vocation opportunities or for family reunification. Although many of them had thought about returning to Sudan eventually to fight in the political cause of South Sudan, many of them end up staying in the U.S. permanently to send money to their families and to increase knowledge about the situation in which South Sudan is.

The "Lost Boys" were dedicated to jobs such as accounting, engineering, carpentry and masonry, crop and animal husbandry, social and humanitarian work, and education, but many South Sudanese, despite having those experiences in Sudan, had to devote to food service, retail, hospitals, hotels, and airport security.[2]

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, the Sudanese are relatively well-educated. So, one-third them have a college degree and one-third attended some college.[3] Thus, some South Sudanese achieved higher U.S. labor positions. Some institutes, in places like Chicago, prepare some South Sudanese clergy.[2]


Most of the people of South Sudan in the United States are Christian, as are the most people of the country, they are mostly Episcopalians, although some are Roman Catholic.[2] Many South Sudanese tribes also live in the United States. Most South Sudanese established in United States belong to the Nuer, Dinka and Azande ethnic groups. Other South Sudanese ethnic groups resettled in United States are the Anuak, Shilluk, Moru, Madi,[11] and Acholi people.[3]

Thus, in Omaha live 10 Sudanese tribes[8] (such as the of the Nuer, Dinka, Bari, Azande and Maban people),[5] or in Maine living 17 tribes (with around 2,000 Sudanese in whole, between them, the Acholi tribe).[3]

Most of the Lost Boys of the South Sudan belonged to Dinka people; included, between others, in the United States, Nuer and Mora.[2][7]

The South Sudanese created community networks and they celebrate the May 16, a holiday that commemorates the day in 1983 when the separatists in South Sudan first organized anti-government north.[2]


In 1997 was founded The Southern Sudanese Community Association (SSCA), a non-profit organization whose goal is provide an education at a basic level (case management, learning English, household budgeting, understanding currency and money, new cultural ways and social norms, transportation, and driver’s education) for refugees in Omaha. Thus, since its founding, the organization have helped more than 1,311 families originating from southern Sudan.[6]

Later, after of The Southern Sudanese Community Association and due to the difficulty of South Sudanese Americans to study in universities, a South Sudanese immigrant, Valentino, created the organization The Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, that aims to help provide scholarships to aid the educational pursuits of South Sudanese Americans, support educational institutions and community organizations that work with South Sudanese immigrants. This foundation make grants to American colleges and universities for scholarship funds for assist South Sudanese students enrolled in degree programs. Grants also are given to community organizations that assist South Sudanese refugees during the difficult adaptation period in the United States.[15]

The South Sudaneses also created The South Sudanese Community ("TSSC", in Alexandria, Virginia) and the Southern Sudanese Community Center of San Diego,[16] In addition of these organizations, Sudanese Americans (whether from North or South Sudan) created other associations. So, because of the great difficulties faced by Sudanese in United States, such as language and skill, was founded the New Sudan-American Hope (NSAH) in 1999 by a group of Sudanese from Rochester, Minnesota, to help Sudanese refugees. So, help with various aspects of relocation. Almost a decade later and with members from diverse backgrounds, NSAH still helps refugees in Rochester and also is a source of education about the consequences of the war in Sudan.[17]

Famous South Sudanese Americans

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Sudan Envoy Goes from Rebel to Diplomat. Posted by Michele Kelemen on May 21, 2007 6:00 AM.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Encyclopedia ofChicago: Sudanese in Chicago. Posted by Elizabeth E. Prevost. Retrieved September 4, 2012, to 23: 30pm.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Sudanese community has diverse makeup. Posted by Tom Bell in March 15, 2010. Retrieved November 30, 23:30 pm.
  4. ^ a b Welcome To The Southern Sudanese Page of Sudanese Mission Lutheran Church Des Moines, Iowa
  5. ^ a b University of Nebraska: Sudan and Nebraska. The Abbott Sisters Living Legacy Project.
  6. ^ a b c d Sudanese Refugess Call Omaha a New Home: A Journey Well Worth It. Posted by Ashley B, Nyayena C, Nyayop B, Molly B, and Bridget M. Retrieved November 30, 18:40 pm.
  7. ^ a b c Lost Boys of Sudan, official IRC website.
  8. ^ a b c d Burbach, C. "Rally features Sudanese vice president." Omaha World-Herald. July 22, 2006.
  9. ^ a b NEW ISSUES IN REFUGEE RESEARCH. Written by Lacey Andrews Gale and posted in June 2011
  10. ^ a b Los Angeles Times: Southern Sudanese in Southern California dream of forging a new nation. Posted by Alexandra Zavis.
  11. ^ a b c Sudanese culture
  12. ^ The Gazette. The Sudan Project: Being Sudanese American in Iowa. Posted by Kalle Eko.
  13. ^ Lost Boy of Sudan Makes North Carolina Home. Posted by Billy Ball, in April 1, 2010
  14. ^ a b Why Sudanese-American Children Are Learning Their Parents’ Language. Posted by Annie Feidt in May 23, 2011. Retrieved September 2, 2:26 pm.
  15. ^ VAD: Working with the Sudanese diaspora in the U.S. Retrieved November 30, 2011, to 0:08 pm.
  16. ^ Southern Sudanese Community Center of San Diego
  17. ^ New Sudan American Hope. Retrieved november 30, 2011, to 0:43 pm.

External links

  • Sudanese Refugees In Omaha Wrestle With Rise Of Street Gangs
  • Community Omaha's Sudanese - Creighton University
  • Sudanese Refugees Find New Home in Maine
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