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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Presentations and Activities > Immigration
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Immigration Conclusion
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Long before immigrants from other nations arrived on its shores, Native Americans called the North American continent their home. Today, the majority of Americans trace their family origins to a country other than the United States. Many of our forebears came to this country seeking greater freedom or an opportunity for a better life. Some of us can trace our roots to ancestors who came against their will and were forced to provide the labor that helped build the nation. Whether they were the native inhabitants of this continent, or came from distant shores, the citizens of the United States brought to this nation a pride in their heritage, and distinctive cultural traditions and values.

The United States has been characterized as a "melting pot" in which each ingredient blends into a single dish. Likewise, the United States has been characterized as a "salad bowl" in which each ingredient reserves its own flavor and texture while contributing to the aggregate salad. Perhaps, President Jimmy Carter characterized the nature of the United States best ...
“We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.”

So who is an “American”? How do YOU define an "American"? Does the definition matter? Why? How does the great cultural diversity of our population influence the life of our nation? What common characteristics do citizens of the United States have and how does this commonality shape the nation? What are YOUR questions?