Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Official nameAsian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Observed byUnited States
First time1991; 32 years ago (1991)

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (as of 2009, officially changed from Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month)[1] is observed in the United States during the month of May, and recognizes the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.[2]


The first Asians documented in the Americas arrived in 1587, when Filipinos landed in California;[3][4] from 1898 to 1946, the Philippines was an American possession.[5] The next group of Asians documented in what would be the United States were Indians in Jamestown, documented as early as 1635.[6] In 1778, the first Chinese to reach what would be the United States, arrived in Hawaii.[7] In 1788, the first Native Hawaiian arrived on the continental United States, in Oregon;[8] in 1900, Hawaii was annexed by the United States.[9][a] The next group of Asians documented in what would be the United States were Japanese, who arrived in Hawaii in 1806.[11] In 1884, the first Koreans arrived in the United States.[12] In 1898, Guam was ceded to the United States;[13] beginning in the 1900s, Chamorros began to migrate to California and Hawaii.[14][b] In 1904, what is now American Samoa was ceded to the United States;[16] beginning in the 1920s, Samoans began to migrate to Hawaii and the continental United States, with the first Samoans documented in Hawaii in 1920.[17] In 1912, the first Vietnamese was documented in the United States.[18]


A former congressional staffer in the 1970s, Jeanie Jew, first approached Representative Frank Horton with the idea of designating a month to recognize Asian Pacific Americans, following the bicentennial celebrations.[19] In June 1977, Representatives Horton, and Norman Y. Mineta, introduced a United States House of Representatives resolution to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week.[20][21] A similar bill was introduced in the Senate a month later by Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga.[20][22]

The proposed resolutions sought that May be designated for two reasons. For on May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrant, Nakahama Manjirō, arrived in the United States.[23][24][25] More than two decades later, on May 10, 1869, the golden spike was driven into the first transcontinental railroad, which was completed using Chinese labor.[23][24][26]

President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution for the celebration on October 5, 1978.[20]

On May 1, 2009, President Barack Obama signed Proclamation 8369, recognizing the month of May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.[1][27]

Federal legislation[edit]

"A joint resolution authorizing the President to proclaim annually a week during the first 10 days in May as Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week." was text in House Joint Resolution 540; this resolution as well as Senate Joint Resolution 72 did not pass.[28] Ultimately, though, Rep. Horton's House Joint Resolution 1007 was passed by both the House and the Senate, and was signed by President Jimmy Carter on October 5, 1978, to become Public Law 95-419.[28] In 1990, George H. W. Bush signed a bill passed by Congress to extend Asian-American Heritage Week to a month;[29] May was officially designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month two years later.[23][28][30]


During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, communities celebrate the achievements and contributions of Asian and Pacific Americans with community festivals, government-sponsored activities and educational activities for students.[31]


  1. ^ In 1959, Hawaii was granted statehood.[10]
  2. ^ In 1947 the remainder of the Marianas Islands, which had been occupied by the United States since 1944 during World War II, became part of the United States–administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. In 1975, the Mariana Islands except Guam became the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.[15]


  1. ^ a b Sagona, Dana (April 12, 2018). "Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at Chatham Square Library". Blog. New York Public Library. Retrieved March 10, 2020. Formerly known as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the name officially changed to Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May 2009, with President Barack Obama's signing of Proclamation 8369.
  2. ^ "Asian Pacific American Heritage Month". APAICS. Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies. Retrieved May 28, 2020.
    Trump, Donald. "Proclamation on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, 2020". Retrieved May 28, 2020 – via National Archives.
    "Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month - NPS Celebrates! (U.S. National Park Service)". U.S. Department of the Interior. Retrieved May 28, 2020.
  3. ^ Lee, Antionette J.; Moresi, Michele Gates; Dador, Daphne; Paz, Janet; Borah, Eloisa; Cohen, Lucy; Foster, Kevin; Feller, Laura; Harper, Marilyn; Muir, John; Odo, Franklin; Perschler, Martin; Pfeifer, Mark; Shull, Carol; Seibert, Erika Martin; Sprinkle, John; Vivian, Dan; Wegars, Priscilla; Wu, Frank; Kingsbury, Lawrence; Pitcaithley, Dwight (2005). Asian Reflections On The American Landscape: Identifying and Interpreting Asian Heritage (PDF) (Report). National Center for Cultural Resources. National Park Service. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  4. ^ Howe, William A.; Lisi, Penelope L. (December 28, 2018). Becoming a Multicultural Educator. SAGE Publications. p. 169. ISBN 978-1-5063-9382-7.
  5. ^ McFerson, Hazel M. (2002). Mixed Blessing: The Impact of the American Colonial Experience on Politics and Society in the Philippines. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-30791-1.
    Brands, H. W. (September 17, 1992). Bound to Empire : The United States and the Philippines: The United States and the Philippines. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 978-0-19-987437-8.
    Filipino Heritage: The American colonial period (1900-1941). Manila: Lahing Pilipino Pub. 1978.
    Linn, Brian McAllister (February 1, 1999). Guardians of Empire: The U. S. Army and the Pacific, 1902-1940. Univ of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-4815-9.
  6. ^ McCartney, Martha W.; Walsh, Lorena S.; Edwards-Ingram, Ywone; Butts, Andrew J.; Callum, Beresford (2003). A Study of the Africans and African Americans on Jamestown Island and at Green Spring, 1619-1803 (PDF) (Report). Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. National Park Service. p. 237. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  7. ^ Chang, Toy Len (1988). Sailing for the Sun: The Chinese in Hawaii, 1789-1989. University of Hawaii Press. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-8248-1313-0.
    Carrier, Jerry (August 1, 2014). Tapestry: The History and Consequences of America's Complex Culture. Algora Publishing. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-62894-048-0.
    Center for Chinese Studies (2011). Chinese in Hawai'i (PDF). 2011 APEC Summit. University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.
  8. ^ Clark, Robert Carlton (March 1934). "Hawaiians in Early Oregon". Oregon Historical Quarterly. 35 (1): 22–31. JSTOR 20610848.
    Rabun, Sheila (June 1, 2011). "Aloha, Oregon! Hawaiians In Northwest History". Oregon Digital Newspaper Program. University of Oregon. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  9. ^ "Annexation of Hawaii: Topics in Chronicling America". Research Guides. Library of Congress. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
    William Michael Morgan (2011). Pacific Gibraltar: U.S.-Japanese Rivalry Over the Annexation of Hawai'i, 1885-1898. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-529-5.
  10. ^ Bell, Roger (March 31, 2019). Last Among Equals: Hawaiian Statehood and American Politics. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-7904-4.
    Schweikart, Larry; Allen, Michael (November 25, 2014). A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to America's Age of Entitlement, Revised Edition. Penguin Publishing Group. p. 432. ISBN 978-0-698-17363-7.
  11. ^ Pacific Northwest Quarterly. Washington State Historical Society. 1933. p. 245.
    Kono, Hideto; Sinoto, Kazuko (2000). "Observations of the First Japanese to Land in Hawai'i" (PDF). The Hawaiian Journal of History. 34: 49–62. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 9, 2021. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  12. ^ Min, Pyong Gap (July 14, 2005). Asian Americans: Contemporary Trends and Issues. SAGE Publications. p. 230. ISBN 978-1-4522-6447-9.
    Chung, Soojin. "History of Korean Immigration to America, from 1903 to Present". Boston Korean Diaspora Project. Boston University. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  13. ^ Office of the Historian (2016). "The Spanish-American War, 1898". Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations. United States Department of State. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
    Leonard, Thomas; Buchenau, Jurgen; Longley, Kyle; Mount, Graeme (January 31, 2012). Encyclopedia of U.S. - Latin American Relations. SAGE Publications. p. 732. ISBN 978-1-60871-792-7.
  14. ^ Long, Lucy M. (July 17, 2015). Ethnic American Food Today: A Cultural Encyclopedia. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 420. ISBN 978-1-4422-2731-6.
    Danico, Mary Yu (August 19, 2014). Asian American Society: An Encyclopedia. SAGE Publications. p. 1319. ISBN 978-1-4833-6560-2.
  15. ^ "Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Guam". Pacific Islands Benthic Habitat Mapping Center. University of Hawaii. 2020. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
    Maddex, Robert (September 23, 2005). State Constitutions of the United States. SAGE Publications. p. 461. ISBN 978-1-4522-6737-1.
  16. ^ "History of American Samoa". American Samoa Government. 2020. Archived from the original on April 18, 2020. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
    Schaefer, Richard T. (March 20, 2008). Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society. SAGE. p. 1315. ISBN 978-1-4129-2694-2.
  17. ^ Mishra, Shiraz I.; Luce-Aoelua, Pat; Wilkens, Lynne R.; Bernstein, Leslie (August 1996). "Cancer Among American-Samoans: Site-Specific Incidence in California and Hawaii". International Journal of Epidemiology. 25 (5): 713–721. doi:10.1093/ije/25.4.713. PMID 8921447.
    Daniels, Roger (2001). American Immigration: A Student Companion. Oxford University Press. p. 236. ISBN 978-0-19-511316-7.
    Lewthwaite, Gordon R.; Mainzer, Christiane; Holland, Patrick J. (1973). "From Polynesia to California: Samoan Migration and Its Sequel". The Journal of Pacific History. 8: 133–157. doi:10.1080/00223347308572228. JSTOR 25168141.
  18. ^ Keith, Charles (March 2019). "The First Vietnamese in America". Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia. 34 (1): 48–75. doi:10.1355/sj34-1b. JSTOR 26594524. S2CID 195578702.
  19. ^ Moon, Kat (May 23, 2019). "How One Woman's Story Led to the Creation of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month". Time. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
    Carr, Janis (April 16, 2019). "Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Highlights Traditions". News. California State University, Long Beach. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  20. ^ a b c "About – Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month". Retrieved February 2, 2016.
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    2009 Congressional Record, Vol. 155, Page H14139 (June 8, 2009)
    Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 95–419
  22. ^ Rebar, Lauri (2015). "Asian/Pacific-American Heritage Month: Home". Libraries. Florida Atlantic University. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
    Knoedler, Matt (May 29, 2019). "Hawaii lawmakers reflect on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month". Hawaii: KITV. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
    "IEE 'Bulletin Board in a Bag': Asian Pacific Heritage Month" (PDF). Inclusion and Equity Education. University of Denver. 2019. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  23. ^ a b c Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 102–450
  24. ^ a b Henderson Daniel, Jessica; Luna, Kaitlin (May 1, 2018). "APA President's Statement on Asian Pacific American Heritage Month". American Psychological Association. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  25. ^ Masako Herman (1974). The Japanese in America, 1843–1973: a chronology & fact book. Oceana Publications. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-379-00512-7.
  26. ^ Chang, Gordon H.; Fiskin, Shelly Fisher; Obenzinger, Hilton; Gabriel, Wolfesntein; Niu, Stephanie; Stiener, Erik; Barleta, Leo; Li, Yue (2018). "Geography of Chinese Workers Building the Transcontinental Railroad". Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project. Stanford University. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
    Katz, Jesse (May 2019). "The Transcontinental Railroad Wouldn't Have Been Built Without the Hard Work of Chinese Laborers". Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  27. ^ "Proclamation 8369—Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, 2009". The American Presidency Project. UC Santa Barbara. May 1, 2009. Retrieved March 10, 2022.
  28. ^ a b c "Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month | Law Library of Congress". April 1, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
    "Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month". Law Library of Congress. Archived from the original on October 6, 2010. Retrieved September 7, 2010.
  29. ^ "About Asian/Pacific Heritage Month". Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The Library of Congress. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
    Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 101–283
    "Joint Resolution: To designate May 1991 and May 1992 as "Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month"" (PDF). Library of Congress. May 14, 1991. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  30. ^ "An Act: To designate May of each year as "Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month"" (PDF). Library of Congress. October 23, 1992. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  31. ^ "Celebrate APA Heritage Month : Asian-Nation :: Asian American History, Demographics, & Issues". Retrieved February 2, 2016.

External links[edit]