The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

March 18, 2011

Marshallese population sees increase

ENID — Over the past few decades, there has been a steadily growing Marshallese population in Enid.

The population has reached new heights as revealed by the U.S. Census Bureau. According to the latest data, there are 1,101 Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in Garfield County.

In 2000, there were only 281 Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders living in the county. Garfield County has the most Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders of any other county in the state.

Janet Cordell, a former nurse, has studied the Marshallese population and said they first came to Enid about 30 years ago.

“What we know is, what brought them to Enid originally, there were some missionary connections from Phillips University 30 years ago or so,” Cordell said. “More than that maybe.”

Since that time, two separate Marshallese communities have developed in Enid.

“We’re the only settlement in Oklahoma that we know of,” Cordell said.

Cheri Ezzell, executive director of Community Development Support Association, said she wasn’t surprised to see a growing Marshallese population, but she was surprised as to the degree of how much it changed.

“I know we’ve had a rise in our Marshall Islander population,” she said, examining the numbers. “They’re big families.”

Other racial populations have changed from the 2000 census to the 2010 census.

In 2000, there were 51,253 whites living in Garfield County. That has dropped to 48,744 in the 2010 census.

In 2000, there were 1,885 blacks living in the county. That dropped to 1,765 in 2010.

The Hispanic/Latino population has increased substantially over the past 10 years. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2000 there were 2,387 Hispanics and Latinos living in the county. There now are 5,353 in the county.

The population of Garfield County overall rose between 2000 and 2010. In 2000, the population of the county was 57,813. It now is 60,580.

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