Filmmakers Document Syrian-Lebanese Immigrants in Western North Dakota

August 14, 2005

Source: Grand Forks Herald / Minot Daily News

On August 14, 2005 Minot Daily News reported, "Film producer Joan Mandell has documented the Gaza Strip and highlighted civil rights issues involving Palestinian immigrants charged with terrorism in California. Her special interest in the Arab community recently brought her and her husband, Rich Wieske, from Michigan to western North Dakota to film another documentary - this time to tell the story of Lebanese-Syrian immigrants and their descendants... Mandell said the Ross immigrants who came around the turn of the century didn't follow the usual route to become shopkeepers and merchants. 'So many of these people who came here came to farm. That's really unique,' Mandell said. 'Another unique thing is that wave of immigration from Lebanon was about 90 percent Christian. Yet the percentage that came to North Dakota was almost 30 percent Muslim'... Immigrants are shaped by the region and environment in which they settle, and that has been true in North Dakota, she said."