More than 12,000 Marshallese live in northwest Arkansas and in nearby communities in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. The first Marshallese to arrive in northwest Arkansas was John Moody, who received a scholarship to study at an Oklahoma college and ended up moving to Springdale to work for Tyson Foods in the 1980s. Since then, thousands of Marshallese have left their island homelands for a variety of reasons: employment and educational opportunities, access to healthcare, the lingering effects of radiation due to nuclear testing, the evident consequences of sea level rise, and simply to join their families in the United States. Given the extant pressures in the Marshall Islands, the population in Arkansas and communities across the United States is expected to increase steadily over the next decades.
After undergoing 12 years of U.S. nuclear testing (1946-1958) as part of the U.S. Strategic Trust Territory of the Pacific, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (R.M.I.) became self-governing in 1979. Four years later the U.S. and R.M.I. signed the Compact of Free Association, which allows Marshallese to travel freely between the two countries, prevents the Marshallese from taking further legal action against the U.S. for damages incurred during the testing, and made provisions for the continued operation of the U.S. missile test site in Kwajalein."
Marshallese Educational Initiative. "Marshallese in Arkansas." Marshallese Educational Initiative. Web. 05 December 2017. https://www.mei.ngo/marshallese-in-arkansas