Almost 100,000 people from the former Soviet Union now call Oregon their home. In the last 20 years, many of the newest arrivals have been evangelical Christians, including Baptists, Pentecostals and Seventh Day Adventists. When they began arriving in Oregon in the early 1990s, they met other Russian-speaking Oregonians. Among these earlier arrivals were Russian Old Believers who began resettling in the Willamette Valley in the late 1960s, after a long and difficult journey via China, Turkey and Brazil. In the 1970s and 1980s, several hundred Soviet Jews made the Portland metropolitan area their home. These Jewish immigrants had earlier predecessors who had fled poverty and persecution in the Russian Empire at the end of the 19th century. The well-established descendants of these earlier immigrants now helped the newly arrived Soviet Jews. Going back even further, Russians and Russian-speaking individuals came to Oregon even before Lewis and Clark reached the Pacific Ocean in 1805. These Russians were traders, laborers, missionaries or escaped convicts. The largest earlier group of Russians or Russian-speaking Aleutians arrived from Alaska after Russia sold it to the United States in 1867. One of these Alaskan Russians, a simple laborer named Lavrenty Chernoff, build the first Russian Orthodox Church in Oregon; the church still exists, though at a new location.
Tatiana Osipovich, Associate Professor of Russian, Lewis & Clark College, Portland Oregon firstname.lastname@example.org