Special Report

The Most Unusual Ancestry in Each State

21. Massachusetts
> Location quotient of ancestry:
26.5
> Most unique ancestry: Cape Verdean
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Cape Verdean: 0.9%
> Share of U.S. Cape Verdean population living in state: 57.9%

Well over half of all Americans who claim Cape Verdean heritage call Massachusetts home. A small island nation a few hundred miles off the coast of Senegal, Cape Verde is home to roughly half a million people. Cape Verdeans have a long history in the United States, and in Massachusetts in particular. Whaling ships leaving from New Bedford and Nantucket often employed Cape Verdeans. It is estimated that between 1825 and 1875, roughly 100 whaling ships would stop at Cape Verde annually.

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22. Michigan
> Location quotient of ancestry:
23.4
> Most unique ancestry: Chaldean
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Chaldean: 0.5%
> Share of U.S. Chaldean population living in state: 72.8%

Of the 0.02% of American citizens who identify as Chaldean, 72.8% reside in Michigan. The Chaldeans, who primarily hail from the town of Telkaif in Iraq, first came to America around 1910 and settled in Detroit. In the 1970s, the largest wave of Chaldeans immigrants came to Detroit due to political turmoil in the Middle East. The Chaldeans were originally attracted to Detroit for its automobile industry, and today they dominate the city’s grocery trade. Detroit is now home to the largest Chaldean population in the world outside of Iraq. Michigan also has relatively high concentrations of residents with Maltese, Macedonian, and Yemeni ancestry.

23. Minnesota
> Location quotient of ancestry:
21.8
> Most unique ancestry: Somali
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Somali: 0.9%
> Share of U.S. Somali population living in state: 38.1%

Minnesota is perhaps better known for its sizeable Norwegian population, of which it has roughly 10 times the national per capita share. However, those tracing their ancestry to Somalia are even more concentrated in the northern state. More than 38% of U.S. residents with Somali heritage live in Minnesota, and there are nearly 22 times the number of Somalis per capita in Minnesota than there are in the nation as a whole.

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24. Mississippi
> Location quotient of ancestry:
2.0
> Most unique ancestry: Indian
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Indian: 0.6%
> Share of U.S. Indian population living in state: 1.8%

Of the four states where Indian is the most unique ancestry, Mississippi has the smallest Indian population. Only 15,255 of the 846,177 Americans who identify as having Indian ancestry call Mississippi home. Still, the share of Mississippi residents who claim Indian ancestry is double the corresponding national share. Arkansas, one of Mississippi’s neighbors to the west, also has a higher than average share of residents who identify as Indian.

25. Missouri
> Location quotient of ancestry:
6.3
> Most unique ancestry: Bosnian and Herzegovinian
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Bosnian and Herzegovinian: 0.3%
> Share of U.S. Bosnian and Herzegovinian population living in state: 11.2%

Only 125,627 residents nationwide identify as Bosnian Herzegovinian, or 0.05% of the U.S. population. Of those, 11.2% reside in Missouri. Following the breakup of former Yugoslavia and the ensuing conflict, a significant wave of Bosnian Herzegovinians came in the 1990s as refugees to the United States. A majority of these refugees settled in St. Louis, which now has more residents of Bosnian Herzegovinian ancestry per capita than anywhere in the world outside of Bosnia and Herzegovina itself. Many of these residents live in the St. Louis neighborhood Little Bosnia.