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Google Earth Activity:

Migration and the Cultural Landscape

When people move they bring their culture with them, changing both their origin and destination.
In the United States (and in Minnesota), we owe a tremendous amount of our cultural landscape to
our migratory history. The purpose of this activity is to explore some of the effects migration has
had on the cultural landscape of Minnesota. We will work together to create a map of the state,
analyzing the location of numerous ethnic groups and the impacts theyve had.

What is the cultural landscape?

The cultural landscape is the impact people have on a place. Everywhere there are people, there is
a cultural landscape. It includes everything from the buildings we build to the clothing we wear.
Languages spoken, names of places (toponyms), and types of land use are all also part of the
cultural landscape. Write down some of the components of Rochesters cultural landscape below:

What does the cultural

landscape tell us
about Rochesters migration

To complete this activity, we will

analyze the cultural landscape to
determine which ethnic groups
have had the most impact in a

Step 1: County
Highlight or outline your assigned


Step 2: Locate a city

Using Google Earth, find a city in
your assigned county. The city
must have Google Street View
available, and ideally has a few
pictures and markers present.

Use the table below as your classification guide. Each region has a colored placemarker coded to it.
The idea is that when finished, patterns of immigration and impact on the cultural landscape will be
made visible by these placemarkers. When you find a business in your city named The Norwegian
Store, you would put a dark blue push pin on that location.

Region Countries Dominant Examples of

Religions Names
Northern Europe Norway United Surnames: Tend to end
Dark blue push
Kingdom Protestant Primarily with son or sen
Sweden The Lutheran, also Methodist,
pin Netherlands Baptist, Anglican Toponyms: Oslo, New
Denmark Ulm, Gustavus Adolphus
Western Europe Ireland Austria Surnames: End with aux
Belgium or ois, begin with O or Mc
Light blue push Catholicism
pin France predominant Toponyms: Duluth, Lake
Spain Geneva, Tyrol
Southern Europe Italy Roman Catholic Surnames: Often end
Italy Greece Eastern with i or ous (Ricci or
Purple push Greece Orthodox (Greek Stephanopoulos)
pin Orthodox)
Toponyms: Madrid,
Czech Republic Croatia
Catholicism Surnames: Numerous
Slovakia countries leads to
Eastern Europe Russia tremendous amounts of
Bulgaria diversity. Often end with
Pink push pin Macedonia
Eastern Orthodox ev or ov, ski, or ich
Lithuania (Polanski, Khrushchev,
Slovenia Belarus Radovonivich)
Romania Toponyms: New Prague,
Albania Islam / Mixed Moscow, Kiev, Budapest
Latvia Protestant
Surnames: Commonly
Sudan have a connection with
Eastern Africa Ethiopia Predominantly Islam and Arabic origin
Yellow push pin Kenya Islam, some (Mohamed, Abu, Ali)
Somalia Christian
Toponyms: Tehran,
Baghdad, Islamabad
Surnames: Commonly
end with az or ez
Mexico Just Mexico! (Velasquez, Hernandez)
White push pin
Toponyms: Spanish or
Native American origin
leads to great diversity
(Tzucabab, Jalisco)
Latin America Surnames: Tremendous
Central and South diversity (Diaz, Silva,
(Not Mexico) America, Caribbean Rojas, Quispe)
Green push pin Islands
Toponyms: Buenos Aires,
Salvador, Port-au-Prince
Hmong and SE Surnames: Vang, Lau,
Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Fang, Nguyen, Tran, Chen
Asian Thailand, Myanmar Buddhism
Red push pin Toponyms: Phnom Penh,
Nay Pyi Taw, Hanoi, Keng
Chinese Surnames: Li, Zhang, Liu,
Count Taiwan as part of Buddhism and Chen, Zhao, Huang
Black push pin China too!
other Chinese Toponyms: Beijing, Hong
religions Kong, Shanghai,
Indian Surnames: Patel, Kumar,
Chandra, Sharma
Orange push Just India! Hinduism
pin Toponyms: Mumbai,
Dehli, Jharkhand,

Step 3: Create a folder in Google Earth

Open Google Earth and right click on the My Places layer on the left side of the screen
Select Add, then Folder
Title the folder. If the city you are researching is Rochester, title it Rochester Migration,
and click OK
Whenever you add a new placemark, make sure your folder is highlighted. If it is not,
placemarks may be lost and your analysis will be incomplete.

Step 4: Cultural Landscape Analysis

There are numerous geographic phenomena which can be considered part of the cultural
landscape. To begin, complete what is applicable below by placing the regionally color-coded
placemarker (refer to previous chart) where appropriate.

A) What is the origin of the citys name?

B) What types of religious institutions are present? If you have a reasonably large city, be
certain to include as much of the diversity as possible.

C) By looking at the city from above, move your cursor over some of the icons present. Indicate
those which are directly tied to a group in particular.

D) Orient your screen so that you see the entire area you are studying. In the search area, type
restaurants. There will likely be numerous placemarks shown. If there are non-franchise
restaurants, many of them will be owned by someone who is part of an immigrant group (for
example, a Greek restaurant run by a Greek family).

This one can be a bit tricky, due to the popularity of some types of food across the United
States. Not all pizza places are owned by an Italian family, and a restaurant selling Chinese
food may not be Chinese at all. Some investigation here will likely be necessary.

E) Orient your screen so that you see the entire area you are studying. In the search area type
religion. Depending on the size of your city, there may be more than one page of results. Be
sure to page on through them so you can correctly represent the diversity that exists within the

F) Orient you screen so that you see the entire area you are studying. In the search area type
grocery store. The ones you are looking for are those that sell a specialty type of food. Hy-Vee
and Cub Foods are not grocery stores you should consider marking. However, you may find an
Ethiopian or Mexican grocery store which is indicative of a migration to the area by that group.
G) Use the street view option and head down one or a few of the main streets. You should look for
any names of businesses, streets, or markers that indicate anything about an ethnic group living in
that place.

**Important Note A minimum of 20 placemarks is required. However, do not consider this your
limit. Make as many placemarks as time permits.

Resources: These websites may be useful for determining origins of city, business, surnames, or
religious origins.
- www.surnamedb.com
- www.wolframalpha.com
- www.merriam-webster.com
- www.wikipedia.com (linked through Google Earth)

Step 5: Email your folder

First, be absolutely certain all of your placemarks are saved in the folder you created.
Save your folder to your U drive by right clicking on your folder and selecting Save Place
Email your folder to _________________________________@rochester.k12.mn.us
o You can send the file as an attachment just like you would on any other email
o If you have a gmail account, you can simply right click on the folder youve saved
and select email

Migration and the Cultural Landscape
In the table below, collect data from the class-generated map:
Examples Origins



s / Grocery

ts, parks,

Migration and the Cultural Landscape
Using the data you collected in the previous table, respond to the following questions:

1. What are some of the most common origins of the cultural landscape throughout Minnesota?

2. Explain some reasons WHY the distribution is this way.

3. What are some of the less common origins of the cultural landscape still found in Minnesota?
4. Explain some reasons WHY the distribution is this way.

5. What does this information tell us about the state of Minnesota? WHY CARE?