Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month image with paper lanterns and flowers

BSD celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, also known as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month during May. BSD joins in paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are instrumental in its future success. The AAPI umbrella term includes cultures from the entire Asian continent — including East, Southeast and South Asia — and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. As of 2019, there were about 22.9 million people of Asian or Pacific Islander descent in the United States. Asian and Pacific Island nations each embrace unique languages, cultures, traditions, histories and beliefs.

Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month History

Under the administration of George H. W. Bush, the month of May was selected as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month in 1992. May was selected by Congress to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese communities in the United States in May of 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad in May of 1869 (Golden Spike Day). The majority of the workers whose labor laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

According to the Bering Land Bridge Theory, Asians first migrated to what is now known as North America over 15,000 years ago through a land bridge between Asia and North America. Since then, Asian immigration to the United States has enriched communities from Louisiana (In the 16th century, Filipinos establishing a settlement in St. Malo, Louisiana), to California (During the California Gold Rush of the 1850s, a wave of Asian immigrants came to the West Coast). Japanese and Korean immigrants began coming to the United States by 1885 to farm, fish and construct. In the mid-1970s, refugees from Southeast Asian nations like Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos came to flee war and violence in their home nations.

BSD Schools Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month

AAPI Heritage Month celebrates the unique journey of all AAPI immigrants and citizens in the United States and their unique life experiences, traditions and cultures. Schools throughout the Bellevue School District acknowledge and celebrate the students and families that comprise their diverse communities. Take a look at the timeline, created by the instructional technology curriculum leader at Somerset Elementary. Several elementary school buildings have shared this timeline with their communities to pay tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history!

The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.