National Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May 3rd, 2021

In 1978 Congress first passed the joint resolution which authorized the President to proclaim a week-long celebration of Asian and Pacific American heritage. On March 28th, 1979, President Jimmy Carter’s proclamation took place, and the first Asian and Pacific American Heritage week took place the week of May 4, 1979. However, in 1990, the proclamations expanded to a month-long observance, and in 1992, Congress passed legislation which recognized the previous proclamations and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and its annual designation in May. in 2009, President Obama’s proclamation expanded the observance to include Pacific Islanders. This celebration is important as there are over 22 million Asian Americans living in the United States, with 1.6 million Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. This is about 6% of the U.S. population. You can find out more by visiting https://asianpacificheritage.gov/

In honor of the month and all it celebrates, below you can read about some interesting facts:

  • There are about 20,000 to 30,000 Pacific islands, and they are sometimes referred to as the Oceania. These islands are made by volcanoes or on coral reefs.
  • The Pacific Islands are in three groups known as Polynesia, Melonesea, and Micronesia. The island countries in the Pacific Ocean, such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and so on, that do not lie in the three regions previously stated, are not considered Pacific Islands, and as such the people living there are not Pacific Islanders. 
  • Pacific means peaceful and the ocean got its name from the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.
  • Melanesians make up more than three-fourths of the total indigenous population of the Pacific Islands.
  • There are several hundred distinct languages that are spoken in the Pacific Islands, but most islanders have at least some familiarity with English or French.
  • Hong Kong means fragrant harbor.
  • There are 45 billion chopsticks produced every year in China.
  • Indonesia has over 150 volcanos.
  • South East Asia is the home of the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia, and yet the world’s smallest mammal, the bumblebee bat.

During this month you can participate by:

  • Visiting the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle or participate in virtual activities, the website of which can be found at https://www.wingluke.org/.
  • Watching the following movies: The Joy Luck Club, Saving Face, Gook, The Tiger Hunter, Better Luck Tomorrow, Chan Is Missing, American Passtime, or Tigertail
  • Reading the following books: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, Clay Walls by Ronyoung Kim, Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan, Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao, The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston, or Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
  • Visiting and supporting local restaurants in the Spokane area that are owned by Asian Americans such as Le Brothers, Bangkok Thai, Chan Bistro, Chef Lu’s Asian Bistro, HAHA’s Teriyaki Grill, among others.
  • Visiting and supporting restaurants in the Spokane area that are owned by Pacific Islanders such as Aloha Island Grill, Pacific Pizza, Inland Pacific Kitchen, and so forth.
  • Supporting Asian-American and Pacific Islander businesses such as:
  • Shopping at From Here a local shop in Spokane featuring products made by people from our own town and a variety of backgrounds. You can meet the artists by visiting this link https://www.fromherespokane.com/meet-your-maker