Asian American, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Updated: Apr 5
May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month – a celebration of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, 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 June 1978, Rep. Horton introduced House Joint Resolution 1007. This resolution proposed that the president should “proclaim a week, which is to include the seventh and 10th of the month, during the first ten days in May of 1979 as ‘Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.’” This joint resolution was passed by the House and the Senate and then was signed by President Jimmy Carter on October 5, 1978 to become Public Law 95-419 (PDF, 158kb). This law amended the original language of the bill and directed the president to issue a proclamation for the “7 day period beginning on May 4, 1979 as ‘Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.’” During the next decade, presidents passed annual proclamations for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week until 1990 when Congress passed Public Law 101-283 (PDF, 166kb) which expanded the observance to a month for 1990. Then in 1992, Congress passed Public Law 102-450 (PDF, 285kb) which annually designated 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.
Ways To Celebrate
Host virtual Lunch & Learn discussion sessions! These sessions can cover current events, science, history, arts, or culture. Share the pioneers who helped improve public health or highlight AANHPI scientists like Chien-Shiung Wu, Fazlur Rahman Khan, or Harvey Akio Itano.
Share personal stories – Learn about our colleagues and their diverse experiences and how they help enrich our workplace culture.
Explore Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center online at https://smithsonianapa.org/ or take a peak at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art.
Host a round of AANHPI Jeopardy with categories like scientists, culture, inventions, or flags.
Craft Time! Participants can gather in-person or virtually and explore paper-based crafts, including origami, fan painting, or paper lanterns.
Host a book club – consider hosting a book club focusing on AANHPI authors or AANHPI biographies.
Let's eat! Explore Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander cuisines. Why not try an in-person or virtual cooking class? Try a recipe exchange and collect recipes to create an AANHPI Heritage cookbook.