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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: May

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) began in May of 1978 as a week long celebration of history and culture. Congress chose the month of May for two reasons: First, May 7, 1843, was the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants. Second, May 10, 1869, marked the completion of the transcontinental railroad. On October 23, 1992, Congress expanded the celebration to include the entire month of May and APAHM became an annual event.

The Asian Pacific is a large and diverse region beginning in Eastern Russia and stretching far into the Pacific Ocean. The continent includes four major regional areas: East Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia and the Pacific Islands. Asian Pacific includes over 25 different countries within these regions including China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, India, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Polynesia. The languages of these countries are as diverse as the people.

Almost 15 million Asian Pacific Americans (APA) live in the United States, making up 5% of the population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Chinese-Americans are the largest APA group. They are followed by Filipinos, Asian Indians, Vietnamese, Koreans, and Japanese. Asian Americans are the second fastest-growing minority group and the population is expected to reach 33.4 million by the year 2050. After English and Spanish, Chinese is the most widely spoken language in America.

This Web site highlights a variety of resources to help teachers celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in their classrooms.

Asian Population Chart

Classroom Resources

Scholastic Asian Pacific American Heritage Site
This Web site is a useful learning tool for both teachers and students. Students visiting the site independently can explore interactive maps and read first-hand historical accounts about Angel Island and World War II. Other resources include arts and crafts activities, teacher guides, and a recommended reading list.  

Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program
The Smithsonian sponsors a program to foster understanding of Asian ethnic groups in America. In addition to events at its headquarters in Washington, DC, the Smithsonian has also created lesson plans and curriculum guides for teachers.

Asia Society
This website includes resources on Asian culture and the Asian Diaspora. Students can explore music, art, music, and literature and learn about global and cultural issues. Resources for teachers include lesson plans, background essays, maps and an online teacher community.

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month
This website, hosted by the Library of Congress, is a collaboration with the National Archives, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institute and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The site contains educational resources, online exhibitions, a virtual museum exhibit and other resources for teachers.
This website has resources on Filipino Americans, Korean Americans, Chinese Americans, Hawaiians and more.