Desperation and renewal: how Huron, South Dakota embraced new Americans (Karen refugees from Southeast Asia) and thrived

Part 1 – Karen refugees from Southeast Asia helped forge a path forward after loss of major employers


Part 2

That Huron came to be a major hub of Karen culture in the Midwest was at least partially a side effect of desperation.

What began as desperation for workers morphed into desperation for a school system struggling to manage its migrant population and the community’s response to it.

Today, about a decade after the dust settled on its unique plan to manage those issues, the city of 14,000 has seen its Karen population thrive. City leaders say that’s been a boon for the community at large.

Refugees from the Karen ethnic group, originally from Myanmar (formerly Burma), began moving to Huron in 2006, initially to work at a turkey plant in Beadle County. Unlike some migrant populations, many in the Karen community have embraced the city as a permanent home.

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