Our Struggles and Triumphs

In the United States of America, the sun first rises over the skies of Guam in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and awakens its Indigenous people, the Chamorro. Guam was acquired as a spoil of war after the Spanish American War of 1898 and the Chamorro became Americans with no political voice in the matter.

Similarly, Native Hawaiians, who have called the Hawaiian Islands home for almost 2,000 years, became Americans at the turn of the twentieth century without any declaration of war. The Islands became a US protectorate after the Kingdom of Hawai'i was overthrown, principally by Americans. One fascinating reminder is 'Iolani Palace, the home and symbol of the former sovereign of the Kingdom of Hawai'i and the only royal residence in the United States. In addition, other Pacific Islands such as the Federated States of Micronesia have long cultural histories.

From the first landing of Asians in the Continental United States as Filipino shipfarers descended on Morro Bay, California on October 18, 1587, AAPIs have shaped North America and the United States. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) built ethnic enclaves from Chinatowns to Koreatowns; developed innovations in science and technology; served the nation in uniform from the War of 1812 to the War in Vietnam; wrote poetry, novels, songs and painted murals and created sculptures; raised families; fought for freedom and organized labor unions across race and ethnic lines; and supported politicians and critical national and international initiatives.

Some trace their residency to native peoples of Pacific Islands or Native Hawaiians who have lived in their Indigenous lands for generations prior to the establishment of the US. Others arrived more recently as immigrants or refugees in the 19th, 20th, or 21st centuries. AAPI stories embrace the ancient past to the modern period. Each of the topics highlighted here represents a significant aspect of the human experience, but each is only a portion of the intertwined, glorious complexity of history.

"Struggles and Triumphs" indicates that our history includes both the stories that make us proud and those that make us resolve to do better, to work harder to realize the more perfect Union envisioned in our Constitution. Engage with the stories of Asian American and Pacific Islanders who shaped the nation through art, science, education, business, industrial design, civil rights, philanthropy, medicine, and many other endeavors.

Ranger and group of visitors posing for a selfie

What do we mean when we say Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage? Consider differences and similarities of this shared heritage.

Large dragon puppet with the Statue of Liberty in the background
Migration and Immigration

Where is your family from? From the mountains to the sea, discover our shared migration and immigration stories.

Visitor standing behind a field of tall lotuses
Engaging with the Environment

The environment is where people live. Discover stories of environmental exploration, ecological crisis, and conservation.

Gate of a Japanese-style tea house
Developing the American Economy

Let’s talk about class, labor, business, and unions! Discover AAPI stories of work and industry.

'Iolani Palace
Shaping the Political Landscape

How do we turn a moment to a movement? Discover stories of AAPIs who fought for rights and freedom and shaped policies and institutions.

Dragon boat float in a folk festival parade
Arts, Culture & Education

From sketches and sculptures to lesson plans and playbills, let’s learn about AAPI stories of creativity, culture, and expression.

National Park Service engineer showing plans for a memorial to fellow staff
Science and Technology

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Come learn about AAPI stories of discovery, ingenuity and innovation.

Honor Guard lined up in a military cemetery
US in the World Community

America has never existed in isolation. Discover AAPI stories of transnational connections and global movements. 

Last updated: May 3, 2024


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