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Borders & Heritage

Public Lands, Citizenship and the Promise of America

Rudwan Dawod and Erica McKenzie are among the group of immigrants being naturalized as U.S. citizens at Crater Lake National Park.

October 3, 2016

Oregon’s Crater Lake shimmers deep blue in the afternoon sun. High above the lake surface, on the rim of the old volcano’s caldera, the wind whips an American flag to full display.

“Raise your right hand and repeat after me.”

Seventeen immigrants rise and begin to recite the Oath of Citizenship. Seconds later, a crowd of family, friends and curious park visitors erupt into applause.

“Congratulations, you are America’s newest citizens,” announces the officiant from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Rudwan Dawod, an immigrant from Sudan, and Erica McKenzie, immigrant from Australia, are among the people being naturalized as U.S. citizens at the Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Follow their stories as they explore what it means to inherit the responsibility of protecting U.S. Public Lands.

The Crater Lake ceremony is one of 100 naturalization ceremonies held at National Parks across the country this year. It’s part of the U.S. National Park Service’s centennial celebration, and a way for agency to bring these immigrants into the fold.

In this story profiling two people who became American citizens on the edge of Crater Lake, we learn about their unique relationship with “public lands.”  

These connections have been shaped by their experiences in their home countries, their lives in the United States and their emerging identity as American citizens.  


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This is a wonderful series. I wish everyone in the U.S. and elsewhere could see it.