The National Park Service is celebrating May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, inviting visitors to a diversity of attractions and historic sites ranging from Colorado and Alaska, to Samoa and Hawaii.
“The resources of the National Park Service provide a wealth of opportunity to explore the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to the American story,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Scores of national parks and properties highlight the hardships and proud accomplishments of the Asian and Pacific experience in America.”
From the early 1800s to the 21st century, Asian and Pacific peoples have played a vital role in the development of the United States and made lasting contributions in all elements of American society, NPS notes.
Among the national parks cited by the NPS that highlight important aspects of the Asian and Pacific experience in America are:
Pu’uhonua O Hónaunau National Historical Park (Hawaii) - Home to some of the most significant traditional Hawaiian sites the park extends through three ahupua'a (traditional Hawaiian units of land). It preserves over 400 years of Hawaiian history, including the historic 1871 Trail and the remains of an abandoned farming and fishing village known as Ki'ilae Village.
Golden Spike National Historic Site (Utah) - Among the stories told that define the completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad here in 1869 were Chinese immigrants, who made up a majority of the work force that laid the tracks.
Manzanar National Historic Site (California) and Minidoka Internment National Historic Site (Idaho & Washington) – Manzanar War Relocation Center and Minidoka Relocation Center were two of the ten camps where American citizens and resident Japanese aliens were interned after 1941.
National Mall and Memorial Parks - Marking the 100th anniversary of their planting in 2012, the famous cherry trees were a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan in 1912. Each year, they signal the coming of spring with an abundance of life and color in a sea of pale pink and white petals surrounding the Thomas Jefferson Memorial along the Tidal Basin.
In addition to national parks, the NPS also administers a number of programs commemorating the role of Asian Pacific Americans in the diversity of our nation. For links to theses resources, including more than 40 highlighted properties from the National Register of Historic Places, photo streams, travel itineraries, lesson plans, and much more, visit www.cr.nps.gov/nr/feature/asia/
Here are a few examples from the National Register list cited by the NPS:
Nippon Hospital, Stockton, San Joaquin County, California - The Nippon Hospital is the last structure standing in Stockton, California, which reaches back to the early 1900’s when Stockton had one of the largest Japanese communities in the United States.
Chinatown Historic District, New York, New York - The Chinatown neighborhood in Manhattan was forged in a dynamic period in American history, from the mid-19th to the early 20th century; a time when waves of immigrants from all corners of the world came to New York seeking opportunity.
Vatia, Old, Tutuila Island in American Samoa - Old Vatia contains a wealth of well-preserved features which help interpret the history and prehistory of the Polynesian Samoans.
Ah Louis Store, San Luis Obispo, California - Read about the young man Wong On who left his village near the city of Canton, China, to avoid the Taiping Rebellion, searched for gold in America, founded a business, created a Chinese community, and helped build the infrastructure of the west coast.
Bromley Farm, Koizuma Hishinuma Farm, Brighton, Colorado - James Hishinuma, the youngest of the family, felt it was his duty to fight in the war for the United States. He joined the army and was assigned to the 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team.
Washington Place, Honolulu, Hawaii - During the era in which Washington Place was built, the Hawaiian Kingdom was a constitutional monarchy, ruled by a native Hawaiian of Polynesian descent, King Kamehameha III.
Kam Wah Chung Company Building, John Day, Oregon - Built circa 1866 as a trading post, the building later served as a commercial, social, cultural, and spiritual center of the Chinese settlement of John Day.
Stedman, Thomas Historic District, Ketchikan, Alaska - The district was a cultural melting pot for Asian and Pacific Islanders involved in Alaska's fishing industry from the early 1900s to the 1940s.
The National Park Service cares for America’s 397 national parks and works with communities to preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.