Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage

The Paj Ntaub
The Paj Ntaub — literally translated “flowering cloth” — is a traditional art of Southeast Asia’s Hmong people. Culturally, Hmong are an oral history keeping people. The “paj ntaub” is that oral history sewn into a story cloth, outlining the life journey of the Hmong people. This preservation of the struggles and obstacles they have faced remind future Hmong generations of their roots.


Congressional Bills Establish Celebration
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month—a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Much like African American History and Women’s History celebrations, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month originated in a congressional bill.

In June 1977, Representatives Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian/Pacific Heritage Week. The following month, senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed.

On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration.

Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Recognition Becomes Month-long Celebration
In May 1990, the holiday was expanded further when President George H. W. Bush designated May to be Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. 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.