Norwegians Made Northwood not New Orleans

Ryan Bakken, Inforum, December 3, 2012

Northwood, N.D., has the highest percentage of Norwegian American ancestry of any community in the United States.

That high ratio of Norwegians explains the town’s rapid and complete recovery from its 2007 tornado.

So says Curt Stofferahn, a UND sociology professor who led a study and penned an article about the recovery that will be published in the Journal of the Community Development Society in the spring.


However, a study of newspaper articles and government reports and interviews with 16 Northwood residents by Stofferahn and 10 of his students back the conclusion.

The locals “defined themselves as self-reliant, independent, hardy, tough Norwegians with a strong work ethic who wouldn’t give up to adversity,” Stofferahn said. “It’s built into their culture.

“Like the city’s slogan said: ‘It takes more than an F-4 (tornado) to keep us down.’ “

Being Norwegian wasn’t the sole reason for the success, however. Being similar was, too.

“With so many having farm backgrounds, they had more self-reliant skills,” Stofferahn said. “And the people were so intertwined socially in clubs, organizations, school, churches and families that they got along with each other and trusted each other.

“There was very little controversy and conflict because of the high degree of trust from those relationships. This is a town where residents don’t lock their doors or their cars.”


This is in sharp contrast to Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans in 2005. In addition to having Michael “You’re Doing a Heckuva Job Brownie” Brown as the FEMA director, instead of James Lee Witt, New Orleans’ diversity played a role in the havoc.

“If you live in a very diverse community, it’s more difficult because people don’t trust each other as much,” Stofferahn said. “In small towns, people can have arguments that don’t turn into conflicts because of the trust.”


Marcy Douglas, the Northwood city administrator in 2007 and the disaster recovery point person, reviewed the paper and said it’s an accurate take.

“It’s highly complimentary of us,” she said. “But that’s how the people are here. They take care of each other, neighbor-to-neighbor. They got together and got things done.”

Even without Douglas’ stamp of approval and the UND professor’s academic finding, we already knew this about the likes of Northwood, Lake Wobegon and other small outposts, right?

“Yes, it’s a painful elaboration of the obvious,” Stofferahn said with a laugh.

Obvious? Yes. Painful? No. We need to be reminded occasionally about how lucky we are, even if it takes an F-4 to deliver the news.


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  • Actually, the French made New Orleans; Africans ruined it.

    • Le Gaulois

      “Actually, the French made New Orleans; Africans ruined it.”

      Well said. The French also founded Haiti, Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago and something tells me that Paris is next !

      • It was the French refugees from Haiti that made New ORleans.

        • Pearl

          New Orleans was well established long before the Haitian revolution.

  • Athling

    A wonderful story and a good example for all of us. Diversity is not the way forward. Homogenous societies form communities of trust and gives its members a sense of belonging.

    • pcmustgo

      To be honest, minorities have a right to resent being the minority. It’s natural and understandable. So yes, diversity is unstable and resentment inducing.

      • SLCain

        To a certain extent. They do not have the right to come to America and then resent being a minority. If Indians (to use one example) don’t like being a minority here, then they should not have come here – they should have stayed in their own country where they are the majority.

      • Exactly. Then everyone in the majority community can chip in and buy them a one-way ticket home.

  • CaptainCromag

    After WW1, the consensus was that people should live in ethnically homogeneous nations. And so out of the multi-ethnic empires of old, new nations were born. And over 60 years later, after the fall of communism, more nations were created based on ethnicity. Even the Czechs and the Slovaks, who share a very similar language, split up. This is the way it was. This is the way it should be.

    • Tim

      “Even the Czechs and Slovaks…” I asked my mothers last remaining sister, “What are we exactly?!?” After giving me a hard look, She told me how much Slovaks didn`t like to deal with Czechs, but not as much as Hungarians…”

  • Biff_Maliboo

    Don’t let the Lutheran church hear about this.

    They’ll relocate some Somalis there and the place will look like Somaliapolis (formerly Minneapolis) before too long.

    • blight14

      It isn’t just the Lutherans flooding white enclaves with third worlders…….Because of where I’m posting, I’ll leave it at that……

    • jeffaral

      I’ve just heard that a truckload of Afghans are heading to Northwood! But don’t worry, the Christians are going to convert them all into law-abiding Christians, as they so successfully did with our black bros and sis!

    • Withhold your money from any church that engages in misguided charitable work that will destroy your community and your family’s life. You wouldn’t listen to someone with a room temperature IQ normally. So, why listen to someone with a room temperature IQ, no matter how good his intentions, just because he’s dressed in clerical garb? Most of today’s clergy, though good people, are dimwits.

      • Number one on that list is the Catholic Church

  • You Are Now Enriched

    If these Norwegians are like their cousins in Norway, they will celebrate their communal success by importing as many Sharia loving dark, dusky, dangerous Muslims as possible, and then even some zulu bantus to prove how “passionate we are about UnDoing our harmful White privilege”.

    • adplatt126

      Yeah, because as you know, it’s always the “people” who really want it, and not a few ideologues at the top using the state apparatus to bring about their multicultural utopia.

  • I’m not impressed by these Northwood norwegians. Call them racists, and watch them turn two shades whiter than they already are. I’m willing to bet that the residents are willing to embrace diversity as soon as some liberal democrat suggests relocating some african refugees there.
    Are the people of Northwood willing to protect what is theirs? All I have to do is look at Norway and say, “No, they will not.”

    • adplatt126

      And pray tell me, what white ethnic group doesn’t do precisely the same at the present?

  • 1stworlder

    Blacks in New Orleans after Katrina saw white people on TV fixing out their own houses and thought it was racist that they didnt come to fix them up first

  • “This is a town where residents don’t lock their doors or their cars.” Good thing Africans prefer not to read. Otherwise there’d be busloads of them heading up there right now for the easy pickings.

    • Strider73

      I imagine the residents of Northwood are well armed. Even if they don’t have many guns, farm implements can be quite lethal in the hands of people who know how to use them.

    • Howard W. Campbell

      There is a lot of open undeveloped land in North Dakota. Easy place to make Africans disappear.

  • storibund

    Meanwhile, huge swathes of abandoned New Orleans houses are slowly being returned to nature… another culture devolution endgame.

  • Smedley Butler

    The Norwegians of North Dakota always pull through in tough times.

    Just like they did in the beginning when they took the land no one wanted and developed crops.

    If we compare the community spirit inherent in Northwood side-by-side with actions taken by the blacks of New Orleans during hurricane katrina, we come to an impasse.

    As whites who strengthened a community tilling the soil, the Norwegians know that community is an essential link between thinking and destiny.

    Anthropologically, the Norwegians also brought a high level of refinement through centuries of cultural developement.

    The blacks by comparison rotate between tribe state and modern America and have done so since the first africans were imported to the colonies.

    Some blacks have the the competence to grow and succeed in a society structured by whites.
    Others create a tribal state where civic trust is low.

  • I know these people, or people just like them. My mother is from a small town in Minnesota about 80 miles from the Canadian border. Fosston, about 2000 people. All of them Swedes and Norwegians. They stick together and help each other. No one locks their doors at night. A wonderful, white town.

  • Self-reliant Norwegians in Northwood????

    Sounds like the local Lutheran church needs to get them some Somalians. That’ll fix things.
    (sarcasm off)

  • Luis

    While this article on the people of Northwood ND helping each other out in a time of crisis, is to be lauded, I do take issue with the observation that because of its homogeneity, there were no lootings or anything on the order of New Orleans during Katrina.

    It didnt take into account RACIAL DIFFERENCES even among homogeneous populations. The sterling example of this is Haiti, during its earthquake. There, you have a homogeneous population of some 99.9% Bantu or Creole people, who pillaged, raped and looted during their earthquake in 2010. Then, you have Japan, whose people helped each other out during the earthquake and tsunami, there.

    Why was there so much chaos, crime rape and pillage in black Haiti, while there was none in yellow Japan or white Northwood, ND? Don’t tell me it was poverty – prosperous New York City and California have had their share of riots and crime.

    Someone on Amren once posted that, “…A white man turns the desert into an oasis, a yellow man maintains the oasis, and a black man turns the oasis back into a desert”.

    What is the origin of that quote? Profound indeed.