NAU celebrating Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month in April

HAPA Hawaiian Club dancers

Northern Arizona University is celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage (APAH) month in April. Although typically celebrated in May, NAU is celebrating during the school year to allow students to participate. The month honors Asians, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, which includes all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

APAH was celebrated for a week starting in 1979 on May 4 and ending May 10. The dates purposely included May 7 to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the U.S. and May 10, which marks the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad. In 1990, the week was extended to a month, and in 1992, the month of May was designated as the annual month to celebrate.

The month’s events kicked off April 1 with the virtual roundtable discussion, “Confronting Anti-Asian Hate and Violence in the US.” The discussion addressed the long history of anti-Asian political rhetoric and practice due to immigration policies, Asian stereotypes, the effects of attitudes about racial othering and the recent violence and hate crimes towards Asian Americans and individuals of Asian descent and origin.

Featured panelists included the following individuals.

  • Christine Hong, associate professor of literature, director of Critical Race and Ethnic studies and co-director of the Center for Racial Justice at the University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Karen J. Leong, associate professor of women and gender studies and Asian Pacific American Studies at Arizona State University
  • John Kong C. Leung, professor emeritus of NAU who taught Asian and Asian American history and co-founded NAU’s Asian studies minor among many other noteworthy contributions
  • NHA Nguyen, graduate student in political science with a focus on American politics, gender and race and violent crimes against women of color
  • Sheila Nair, professor of politics and international affairs who focuses on the intersections of race, class, gender and power in international relations and other topics
  • Binod Paudyal, lecturer of ethnic studies who teaches and researches Asian American studies, comparative race and ethnic studies and transnational and postcolonial studies

In addition to the roundtable discussion, the HAPA Hawaiian Club will present its 15th annual lū’au in a virtual format at 6 p.m. on April 3. The event is in partnership with the Office of Leadership, Engagement, Activities and Peer Mentoring and the Office of Inclusion.

The event will be a memorable evening of authentic Polynesian culture experienced through song and dance. There will be showcase performances from Hawai’i, Samoa, Tahiti and several others. The first 350 individuals registered will receive a Lū’au Box with souvenirs from the islands and Hawaiian goodies and stickers.

Watch the lū’au.