May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have a rich heritage thousands of years old and have both shaped the history of the United States and had their lives dramatically influenced by moments in its history.
Here are some regional events marking Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month:
Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebration is part of Seattle Center’s Virtual Festál Series with generous support from 4Culture. The 2021 theme, "Where the World Gathers" links together the series of 24 free festivals presented throughout the year, each with a unique cultural focus, identity, and a range of engaging activities. The Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebration is in partnership with the Asian Pacific Directors Coalition (APDC). The festival marks the beginning of the officially proclaimed and recognized Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) of May in the Greater Seattle area. It aims to preserve and promote the culture, heritage, and contributions of Asian Pacific Islanders (API) and Asian Pacific Americans (APA). Tune in May 2 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Facebook for the virtual presentation which is free and open to the public.
Join the Vancouver (B.C.) Asian Heritage Month Society (VAHMS) in exploring and celebrating Asian-Canadian arts and culture in the Metro-Vancouver area. The online event, “Exploring Asian Heritage in Vancouver” on May 6 will include a wide variety of notable speakers.
The 2021 Annual Exhibition of the Seattle Chapter of Ikebana International presents ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arranging) arrangements and demonstrations by members of all the different schools of ikebana represented in Seattle on May 9 and 10. More information here. View ikebana arrangements from all the represented schools along with demonstrations here. Ikebana International is a worldwide organization founded in Tokyo, Japan in 1956. Seattle Chapter 19 was chartered on March 16, 1959. After 60 years of friendship through flowers, they celebrated their 60th Anniversary in June of 2019. Find out more about Ikebana International here.
Bainbridge Island Historical Museum (BIHM) honors AAPI Heritage Month on May 10 at 11:30 a.m. Hear stories from educator and artist Reanna Rapada and her grandmother Doreen Rapada. The Bainbridge Island Senior Center hosts this online Google Meet program with the Bainbridge Island Historical Society. More details on BIHM’s website.
On May 11 at 5 p.m., Densho, a Seattle-based organization dedicated to preserving, educating, and sharing the story of World War II-era incarceration of Japanese Americans, will host the official book launch for Facing the Mountain, a new book by Daniel James Brown, bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat. In a virtual event on May 11, Brown will be in conversation with Densho Executive Director Tom Ikeda, who has conducted previous oral histories with many of the men highlighted in the book! Based on Brown’s extensive interviews with the families of the protagonists as well as deep archival research, Facing the Mountain portrays the kaleidoscopic journey of four Japanese American families and their sons. While some fought on battlefields as members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, others fought to defend the constitutional rights of a community. Celebrate Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month by registering and learning more about this pivotal piece of Japanese American history and the pursuit for justice after World War II. Register here.
On May 20, join Washington State History Museum online for two South Sound Day of Remembrance events. First - see a free performance of Never again: The story of the Japanese American incarceration, presented by Dukesbay Productions at 5 p.m. This play features a collection of first-person stories of people who were forced into incarceration camps during World War II. Over the course of several scenes, five actors will bring this powerful history to life. Aya Hashiguchi Clark edited and directed this play. She is a Tacoma-based actor, producer, and co-founder of Dukesbay Productions, and is a descendant of World War II incarceration history. Watch on Facebook.
Then at 7 p.m. on May 20, University of Washington-Tacoma presents Scholarly Selections: Never Again is Now - Japanese Internment, Anti-Asian Violence and Immigration Detention in the 21st Century on Facebook. Listen and ask questions during this free panel discussion about the history and meaning of the U.S. government surveillance of Japanese Americans and World War II incarceration, in relationship to contemporary issues of anti-Asian violence, immigration and labor, private detention centers, and border patrol. Informed by history, UWT scholars will address relevant questions about democracy and civil liberties, neoliberal policies, citizenship, and American identity. Panelists will also consider the possibilities of solidarity between social justice movements for freedom and equality, including Black Lives Matter.
Wing Luke Museum of the Asian American Pacific Experience is presenting digital programs including Book-O-Rama Virtual Book Talks on May 15 and 22, and June 5. Their Digital Tateuchi Story Theatre brings the programs to you online. View documentaries of the past, by the Wing Luke Museum and from their friends at the Seattle Channel and abroad and learn more about the Museum’s upcoming programs. Many thanks to the Tateuchi Foundation for ongoing support of this program series. The Atsuhiko & Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation promotes international understanding, knowledge and the quality of relations between Japan and the United States, providing the Puget Sound region with greater exposure to the performing arts and culture of Japan. (See more resources from the Wing Luke Museum below.)
Here are some resources that elevate the stories and experiences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders:
Tacoma’s Asia Pacific Cultural Center (APCC) serves as an interactive cultural crossroads between local and international communities. APCC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that was formed in November 1996 from the vision of a small group of citizens representing three generations of Americans from Asian and Pacific Islanders heritage. APCC represents 47 countries and cultures, offering programs and services honoring their distinct artistry, business protocols, history, and social practices. More information is on their website.
The Asian Art Museum - Seattle Art Museum is reopening with a limited capacity to members on May 7 and to the public on May 28. This 1933 Art Deco building in Seattle’s Volunteer Park is SAM’s original home and the location of its extensive Asian art collection. The museum closed for three years starting in 2017 for a major renovation. It reopened in February 2020 with a new three-story wing in a minimalist style constructed primarily out of glass and sandstone. However, it shut its doors shortly thereafter due to COVID-19 restrictions. So this is a great opportunity to see it again in all its glory and enjoy its extensive Asian art collection in a beautiful space and location.
Take interactive virtual tours with maps of the Seattle Chinatown International District. Their Dinner Date with History is on select Fridays, and Historic Hotel Tours are every Thursday at 5 p.m.
Through their Digital Collections, you can learn about Seattle’s Chinatown-International District and the first Asian pioneers who settled here through artifacts and archival pieces dating back to the early 20th century.
Tia Ho and Wing Luke Museum present UPLIFT: an APA Artist Relief Fund. Every week in April, May, and June, we’re partnering with a different Asian Pacific American creative to offer you a unique giveaway that celebrates their work. In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, these creatives have continued to elevate the stories and experiences of our communities in the face of uncertainty and increasing anti-Asian xenophobia and violence. Through UPLIFT, we champion them and their resilience in return. Throughout the fundraiser, you can enter to win original artwork, cooking classes, dance lessons, and much more from creatives in our local community. Every week that you donate, you’re not only supporting the week’s featured creative, you’re also providing direct and needed financial assistance to artists of Asian and / or Pacific descent in the Puget Sound Area. UPLIFT and Wing Luke Museum aim to provide $500 in unrestricted emergency relief to as many APA creatives as possible, with priority given to NHPI artists and other systemically underserved communities.
ArtsWA celebrates Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month by featuring all artists of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage who are part of Washington's State Art Collection. This web exhibition celebrates the rich and varied creative expression of these artists via drawings, paintings, cut paper, prints, collage, photographs, ceramics, sculptures, and site-specific installations.
Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s webpage has ideas on how to honor Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Check out their list for ideas about where to shop, what to read, organizations to support, and more.
KNKX’s food commentator Nancy Leson recently taught an online class on how to make jiao-zi (Chinese dumplings) and featured an interview with Vietnam-born, California-raised food authority Andrea Nguyen, author of Asian Dumplings. You can watch the extended interview and the cooking class here. Andrea Nguyen’s website has lots of information, instructional videos, recipes and lots more.
The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America's history and are instrumental in its future success. Find out more about exhibits and collections, audio and video resources, and more here. During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and throughout the year, the National Park Service and its partners share those histories and the continuing culture thriving in parks and communities today. Inspired by something you've learned or found a bit of family history in a national park? Share your experiences on social media using #FindYourPark / #EncuentraTuParque.
PBS is streaming “Asian Americans,” a five-part series on the history of Asians in the United States told through personal lives. There is also an interactive gallery and a digital town hall on May 1st entitled “Asian Americans in the Time of COVID-19.” It will explore how lessons from Asian American history can help us understand the experience of Asian Americans in the time of COVID-19. For more information, visit the official website “Asian Americans” or contact your local PBS station.
Kanopy, the free streaming service available to university students and public library cardholders, has organized an Asian Pacific American Heritage Month film collection. Dozens of titles are highlighted and available for streaming via the Kanopy app which can stream content to your digital device or smart TV.
The Government of Canada has designated May as Asian Heritage Month, marking the legacy of Asian Canadians including those of East Asian descent (e.g., China, Japan, Korea), South Asian descent (e.g., India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka), Southeast Asian descent (e.g., Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia), Central Asian descent (e.g., Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan) and West Asia descent (e.g. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey). Here are some resources and events that celebrate Asian Canadians in the arts, culture, and society at large.