Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Americans

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Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Americans
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Total population
110,807[1]
Regions with significant populations
Michigan, Illinois, California, Arizona, New York, New England
Languages
American English, Neo-Aramaic: 77,547[1]
Religion
Chaldean Catholic Church, Assyrian Church of the East, Ancient Church of the East, Syriac Orthodox Church, Syriac Catholic Church, Assyrian Pentecostal Church,
Related ethnic groups
Assyrian Swede, Assyrian Canadian, Assyrian Australian, Assyrian German, Mandaeans, Mhallami

Assyrian/Chaldo-Assyrian/Syriac Americans are American citizens of Non-Arab Semitic Mesopotamian descent. The United States constitutes the largest population of Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac people in the diaspora. They are an Eastern Aramaic speaking Christian ethnic group who descend from the ancient Assyrians. Almost all are followers of the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, the Ancient Church of the East, the Syriac Orthodox Church (15,700),[2] and the Syriac Catholic Church, the remainder are members of various Assyrian Protestant.

Differing names are often accepted for this ethnic group. They are historically indigenous to northern Iraq, southeast Turkey, northwest Iran, and northeast Syria, a region encompassing what was ancient Assyria from the 25th century BC through to the 7th century AD. The earliest term used to describe them was Assyrian, but others have come in to play due to largely theological differences. The term Syriac (an Indo-European derivative of the earlier term Assyrian) is commonplace, but is often used as a catch all term to describe all Eastern Rite Christians from the Near East, regardless of ethnicity. It is acceptable to Assyrians, as it historically and originally meant Assyrian. The terms Chaldean, Chaldean Catholic and Chaldo-Assyrian originated in the 18th century, and are also used for those Assyrians who split from the Assyrian Church of the East and entered communion with the Roman Catholic Church between the 16th and 18th centuries AD.

History[edit]

Assyrians have been present in the United States since the early 20th century. They traveled in small groups and emigrated from Iraq, southeastern Turkey, northeastern Syria and northwestern Iran from 1914-1920 due to the Assyrian Genocide. Following those years, the Assyrian immigration increased dramatically due to other conflicts in the Middle East and still increases due to the Iraq War. The United States is home to the third largest Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac community in the world. The 2000 U.S. census [3] counted 82,355 Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syriacs in the country,[4] of whom 42% (34,484) lived in Michigan. The Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac organizations claim that their population in 2010 is around 400,000 [5] The highest concentrations are located in Detroit and Chicago. In 2005, the first Assyrian school in the United States, the Assyrian American Christian School, opened in Tarzana, Los Angeles.

As of 2007 Metro Detroit had around 100,000 Chaldo-Assyrian people. Within California there were also Chaldo-Assyrians, with most of them being in San Diego. There were also smaller communities in Illinois and Arizona.[6]

In Detroit[edit]

Assyrian Chaldean Christians immigration, mainly to Detroit, Michigan began in the early 20th century. The first reported Assyrian who immigrated to the United States was Zia Attala, who was a hotel owner in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[citation needed]

Before the 1970s, Assyrians-Chaldeans came to the United States in search of greater economic opportunities. After the 1970s, many Assyrians-Chaldeans fled for political freedom, especially after the rise of Saddam Hussein and, after the Gulf War. Some Chaldeans were drawn by the economic opportunities they had seen successfully affect their family members who had already immigrated. Less stringent immigration laws during the 1960s and 1970s facilitated increasing numbers, with the 1970s seeing the highest number of Chaldeans coming to the United States. Assyrian-Chaldean immigrants were initially drawn by the potential employment at the Ford Motor Company River Rouge in Detroit. In 1962, the number of Assyrian-Chaldean-owned grocery stores was 120, but grew to 278 in 1972. The main cause of this were the 1967 Detroit riots, after which Jewish grocery store owners left the area and left the opportunity open for Chaldeans to take over. Often these Jews sold their old stores to Assyrians-Chaldeans.[7]

The largest Iraqi Assyrian-Chaldean diaspora is located in Metropolitan Detroit, where there are an estimated 121,000 members.[8] These cities include, but are not limited to, Detroit, Southfield, Sterling Heights, Oak Park, Troy, West Bloomfield,Commerce, Walled Lake, Rochester Hills, Shelby TWP, Macomb TWP Farmington Hills, Ferndale, Warren, Bloomfield Hills and Ann Arbor. More and more Assyrians-Chaldeans, as they establish themselves financially, quickly move out of Detroit and into the other locations, including San Diego and cities in Arizona.

Mostly all new Assyrians-Chaldean immigrants and low-income senior citizens tend to reside in Detroit, in the 7 Mile Road between Woodward Avenue and John R Street. This area was officially named Chaldean Town in 1999.[citation needed]

There are eight Chaldean Catholic churches in Metropolitan Detroit, located in West Bloomfield, Troy (where there are two), Oak Park, Southfield, Warren, Sterling Heights and Detroit.

Saddam-Detroit connection[edit]

Iraqi president Saddam Hussein donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Chaldean Catholic churches in Detroit and received a key to the city in the 1980s on behalf of mayor Coleman Young, when the Baath regime was an ally of the United States government.[9]

Saddam's bond with Detroit started in 1979, when the Reverend Jacob Yasso of the Sacred Heart Chaldean Church (Aramaic: ܥܕܬܐ ܕܠܒܗ ܕܡܪܢ ܕܟܠܕܝ̈ܐʿēttāʾ d-lebbēh d-māran d-ḵaldāyēʾ) congratulated Saddam on his presidency. In return, Yasso's church received 250,000 dollars. The money reportedly helped build the Chaldean Center of America located on Seven Mile Road next to the Sacred Heart Chaldean Church, which received an earlier Saddam gift of $250,000, the station reported.[10] More Iraqi money reportedly went to other churches around Detroit and around the country.[citation needed]

In California[edit]

After World War II several Chaldean men who had been educated in Iraq by American Jesuits traveled to the United States. They were to teach Arabic to U.S. officers at the Army Language School who were going to be stationed in the Middle East. The men started the San Diego-area Chaldean community. Yasmeen S. Hanoosh, author of The Politics of Minority Chaldeans Between Iraq and America, wrote that the Chaldeans in San Diego "continued to grow in relative isolation from the family-chain-migration based Chaldean communities in and around Michigan."[11]

Syriac and Syrian distinction[edit]

The U.S. federal government took Syrian to mean Arabs from Syria and not as one of the terms to identify Assyrians. The Syriac Orthodox Church was previously known as the Syrian Orthodox Church until a Holy Synod in 2000 voted to change it to Syriac, thus distinguishing from the Arabs. Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim wrote a letter to the Syriacs in 2000 urging them to register in the census as Syriac with a C, and not Syrian with an N to distinguish the group. He also urged them not to register as the country of origin.[12] On the U.S. census, there is a section for the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriacs, which is listed separately from Syrian, Syrian being a subcategory for Arab. [13]

Distribution[edit]

According to the 2011 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates there are 110,807 Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac people in the United States.[1]

Michigan - 34,484
California - 22,671
Illinois - 15,685

References[edit]

  • Hanoosh, Yasmeen H. The Politics of Minority Chaldeans Between Iraq and America. ProQuest, 2008. ISBN 0549984755, 9780549984757.
  • Henrich, Natalie and Joseph Henrich. Why Humans Cooperate : A Cultural and Evolutionary Explanation: A Cultural and Evolutionary Explanation. Oxford University Press, May 30, 2007. ISBN 0198041179, 9780198041177.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Selected Population Profile in the United States : 2011 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". Factfinder2.census.gov. Retrieved 2013-10-20. 
  2. ^ Alexei Krindatch. "Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas". Hartfordinstitute.org. Retrieved 2013-10-20. 
  3. ^ "Euroamericans.net". Euroamericans.net. Retrieved 2013-10-20. 
  4. ^ "American FactFinder". Factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2013-10-20. 
  5. ^ BetBasoo, Peter. Diaspora: 1918 to present, History of Assyrians, Assyrian International News Agency (AINA).
  6. ^ Henrich and Henrich, p. 81-82.
  7. ^ Chafets, Ze'ev. Devils Night: and Other True Tales of Detroit. New York: Random House, 1990)
  8. ^ "Chaldean Chamber of Commerce | The Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce is a partnership of Chaldean businesses and professionals working together to strengthen members' businesses, increase job opportunities, encourage expansion and promote Chaldean business and culture. The Chamber seeks to service and represent Aramaic-speaking people, including Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs". Chaldeanchamber.com. 2012-05-16. Retrieved 2013-10-20. 
  9. ^ "March 31, 2003". Zindamagazine.com. Retrieved 2013-10-20. 
  10. ^ "Saddam Reportedly Given Key To Detroit Iraq President Funded Local Chaldean Church In 1980." Click on Detroit. March 26, 2003. Retrieved on November 16, 2013.
  11. ^ Hanoosh, p. 195.
  12. ^ "Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim - Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch". Syrianorthodoxchurch.org. Retrieved 2013-10-20. 
  13. ^ "American FactFinder". Factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2013-10-20. 

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