Nevada Immigration Profiles: Allison Kahaunani Cladianos

by Maribel Cuervo

Image - Maribel Cuervo

Reno – Over the past 20 years, Nevada has been one of the fastest growing states in the nation, and this influx of diverse people brings a mix of opportunities and challenges.

Immigration to Nevada from within the United States has been a significant contributor to the state’s rapid population growth, but immigration from foreign countries has also been a driver. The number of people who live in Nevada and were born in a foreign country has increased by more than 200 percent since 1990. Today, according to the Migration Policy Institute, nearly 20 percent of Nevadans were born outside the United States.

In this context Nevada Capital News correspondent Maribel Cuervo sets out to speak with those who came to Nevada from somewhere else as well as natives. When does a person become a Nevadan? Maribel will ask people what brought them here, what keeps them here, what they think of their life in the Silver State and more as she explores what it means to be a Nevadan.

Allison is from Reno. Her father is a second generation Renoite. Her great grandfather emigrated to Reno from Greece in 1919. Her mom moved to Nevada from Hawaii in the 1980s.

Allison Kahaunani Cladianos

Hear Maribel Cuervo speaking with Allison.

“I always thought of myself as a Nevadan,” Allison said. “I went to the same high school as my father and my grandfather, so I was the third generation to graduate from Reno High in the area, so I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty northern Nevadan. My mother’s side of the family, I didn’t know any Hawaiian people ever. My mom and my aunt here, I didn’t know that there were other Hawaiian people until much later in life, so as a child, that was always a weird thing for me.”

Maribel asked if Allison has seen a lot of changed in the Truckee Meadows over time, if she’s noticed more islanders in the area.

“When you are an islander, you definitely notice when there’s other islanders around. You’ll notice some symbols that they might wear or things that they might wear or things that they hang in their car in particular.

“As being from Nevada, I think it’s great that we have more people moving in, bringing in more diversity because we haven’t historically had a lot of diversity here, and me being from a mixed ethnic background that I am, it’s nice seeing people move in from all different places  and bring diversity to northern Nevada.”

“Have you seen by any chance these bumper stickers I’ve seen some cars running around with it, it says, ‘stop the Californication of Nevada,’” asked Maribel.

“Yeah, that’s definitely a common thought or belief I guess I’ve heard. Not just people that have been here for a long time but people who have been here a short time too. I think that with our shared border with California and the differences of how far your money can go in Nevada, I think that a lot of people that have been here for a while are concerned about a lot of new people coming in and the differences that’ll bring and changing our culture.”

“So you’re thinking that it’s more a cultural shift or it’s more like economical pressure.”

“I think most people are concerned about economical pressure, but I definitely do see the cultural shift. I had someone say to me, ‘the only time they ever get cut off when they’re driving on the highways in Nevada is from a person who’s out of state, typically California, so things like that that are cultural, we, you know.

“In northern Nevada, I can’t speak for the south, we move a lot slower. We don’t have that southern California mentality. We fortunately don’t sit in traffic for several hours a day. It’s very different.”

“So what do you like about Nevada, something that keeps you here beside your family obviously,” Maribel asked.

“It took me a very long time to find out things I like about Nevada but I really like the desert landscapes. I think growing up here I didn’t appreciate it because as a child it just looked like everything was dead all the time, but now being able to appreciate the actual diversity that there is in such a muted landscape. Here in the north we’re in a high desert, so we do have all four the seasons, which I’m growing to appreciate as well.”

“Is there anything that would make you leave this area, or are you pretty much settled here,” asked Maribel.

“I’m definitely looking for some opportunities to grow, and I think that for me to grow personally, my next step might be to move out of the area. I’ve been in Nevada my whole life, almost 30 years now, and I think it’s time  to grow and I’ve done all the growing I can in the area.”

Maribel asked if Allison has plans to leave the area.

“I’m still thinking about what moving is going to be like, what that’s going to mean for my family because they are all here. Moving away from them, I haven’t moved away before, so that’s a totally new experience for me.”

Maribel asked if Allison has advice for those considering a move to Nevada.

“I think that Nevada has a lot to offer that doesn’t meet the eye. I think that it’s important to see all of the changes that our community has come through. For example, when I was a kid, the main source of income was working in casinos, and now it has changed a lot from that, and I think that that is an interesting cultural shift in the community, and all of the outdoor resources that we have here.”

“Your parents have been here most of their lives I imagine, do they feel they are Nevadans already or do they still keep their cultural identity,” asked Maribel.

“My father and his side of the family are definitely Nevadans. Like I said, my great grandfather immigrated to the area from Greece in the early 1900s, and they’ve been here … I think he established, my family has been here for a very long time on my father’s side.

“I think that my mom feeling like a Nevadan, you know I’ve never asked her,” Allison chuckled.  “She’s been here long enough that it’s definitely part of her life, but my mom is definitely an islander.