May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month – a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. A rather broad term, Asian/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).
In 1977, both Rep. Frank Horton and Sen. Daniel Inouye introduced resolutions to establish Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week. Neither resolution passed. The following year, Horton introduced another resolution, which passed and was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in October 1978. Congress expanded the observance to a month in 1990, and two years later, passed a law annually designating May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.
The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
- Learn more about Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
- Explore the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Museum’s Care Package: poems, meditations, films, and other cultural nutrients for times like this
- Ways to celebrate in Seattle
- Theater, art, festivals, and family events in Seattle
- Read about the Asian Pacific American community’s prominent role in Seattle’s history
- Visit the Wing Luke Museum, Asian Art Museum, Kubota Garden, Asian American Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander-owned businesses and more
- Read a new book: