A summary of the article, "Marshall Islanders adjust to lives away from ocean," follows. The original AP article has now been placed in the NewsOK.com archives.
ENID -- Hundreds of Pacific islanders who have settled in Enid affectionately refer to the wheat and oil town as Yokwe City, using the word they use as a greeting.
It has been almost 25 years since the first natives of the Marshall Islands arrived.
Four Marshallese students transferred from Kansas to Phillips University, which has since closed. They liked it and stayed, with one even going into partnership in a restaurant. Families followed. Now, about 350 live here and maintain a low profile.
Sypher Lokeijak, a Marshall Islands native, says he usually begins by explaining he's not from Mexico whenever he meets a di-pelle, the island word for white person. The word literally means one who wears clothes.
Lokeijak, a cook at an Enid country club, is also an assistant pastor at the Marshallese Assembly of God church, where services are held seven nights a week.
"The people in Enid are one of the earlier communities," said Matt Zackhras, a spokesman for the Marshallese Embassy in Washington.
Enid schools have 35 Marshallese students this year. About half speak English.
Although Marshallese hold a variety of jobs, the Advance Foods plant seems to be their largest employer. Brian Hayden, a spokesman for the meat processor, said about 60 Marshallese work there in jobs ranging from cleanup to management.
The Marshallese Embassy said there is no count of how many Marshallese live in the United States. Most communities are on the West Coast, although the fastest growing seems to be in Springdale, Ark., where many have gone for jobs in poultry plants.
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