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Long Voyage Home – Oklahoma’s Vietnamese Boat People

*Courtesy Koichi Sawada


As stated in Vol. 1 of The Oklahomans, Oklahoma has always been the land of the second, third, and sometimes last chance. So it was for the tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees who fled the triumphant, mass murdering North Vietnamese Army in the mid-late 1970s. They suffered kidnapping into that army, imprisonment, torture, separation from loved ones, and rape, robbery, terror, and murder on the high seas as “Boat People.”

According to the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, one-third of all the boat people—a total of 250,000 of all ages of men, women, and children—died at sea by murder, storms, illness, thirst, and starvation. Thousands of them, however, blessedly found their way to far-away America. Many came to Oklahoma.