Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Field Trip: Slavic Arizona

Believe it or not, there actually are Slavic sites in Arizona. According to the 2000 US Census, there are about 1.3 million people living in Phoenix, of which there were 22,309 of Polish descent, 7418 Russian, 4182 Yugoslav, 2859 Czech, 1641 Ukrainian, 1607 Czechoslovak, 1436 Serbian, 1382 Croatian, 1308 Slovak, 415 Bulgarian, 386 Slavic, 276 Slovene, 157 Macedonian and 18 Carpatho-Rusyn.

Poles, as the largest group, are also the least visible. Same with Russians. There is a Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity (2502 North 28th Place) as well as the Russian Orthodox
Church of the Holy Archangels. Ukrainian sites include the Dormition of the Mother of God church, and the Ukrainian Cultural Center (730 West Elm Street).

The most visible, counter intuitively, are the former Yugoslav groups. Though there is a history of South Slavic settlement in Arizona, a large number came as refugees during the wars in Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.

Serbs are active in St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church (4436 East Mckinley Street) and St. Nikola Serbian Orthodox Church (11640 North 16th Place) as well as in the Folklore Group Srbija. The
Serbian Yellow Pages lists a number of Serbian businesses. Croats have long been active in the Croatian American Club (2434 West Devonshire Avenue), founded in 1954 but only recently has opened its social club. Bosnians worship at the Islamic Center of North Phoenix (9032 North 9th Street), and eat at the new Bridge's Bistro (4323 West Cactus Road, Glendale). Macedonians recently founded their first church in the area, the Macedonian Orthodox Church of St. Michael the Archangel (2900 West Williams Drive)

The other South Slavic group, the Bulgarians, are also well represented by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church of St. Sophia (2525 East Osborn Road) and
Mirage Bulgarian Grill & Bar (3345 West Greenway Road), which features live music after 9:30 p.m. on weekends.

Czech and Slovak Genealogical Society of Arizona (4921 East Exeter Boulevard) works with the Czechs and Slovaks of the state. Other sites include the American Slavic Club (5135 East Thomas Road), Cafe Boa (398 South Mill Avenue at Fourth Street, Tempe) and Barmouche Restaurant (3131 East Camelback Road #125).

Slavic folk arts are alive and well in the state, including
pysanky, other Easter egg traditions and woodwork. The Phoenix International Folk Dancers also promote Slavic folk dancing.

Meanwhile, over in Arizona’s second-largest city, Tuscon, there are active
Croatian, Czech, Slovak and Ukrainian communities, as well as the Rusyny Folk Ensemble.

And last but not least, it bears mention that Arizona’s famous tumbleweed is perhaps the state’s most famous Slavic resident. According to, it was brought to the United States by Ukrainian farmers and its real name is Russian thistle.

1 comment:

Katja R. said...

Another Western States resident came from the Slavic lands, the Siberian Elm, a miserable tree that loves American and will grow willfully and persistantly where you do NOT want it! :)