Seminar: NPS Diversity Effort Could Be Better
Editor’s Note: The following story appeared on the www.diverseeducation.com website.
A group of Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) scholars are praising the Obama administration for trying to more fully integrate places and histories of AAPI significance into National Park Service initiatives, but they caution that because of long-running underrepresentation, the work has barely begun.
As an example, among the National Historic Landmarks in the state of Hawaii, about a dozen have U.S. military significance, said Franklin Odo, a former professor of ethnic studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
However, only one sugar plantation has been designated such a landmark, Odo said, despite the many decades in which the plantations impacted Hawaii’s socioeconomic landscape and natural resources. “To look at this list of landmarks,” he said, shaking his head, “you would not have a clue about how important the plantations have been.”
Dawn Mabalon, associate professor of history at San Francisco State University, said she didn’t know anything about the Filipino-American history of her hometown of Stockton, Calif., until she was a University of California, Los Angeles undergraduate — despite the fact that Stockton had boasted the largest Filipino community in this country shortly after World War II. “It shows how absent we as Filipinos are from the American narrative that I had to go all the way to UCLA to learn about my people,” she said.
The scholars’ remarks occurred last week at a Washington, D.C., forum examining how the legacy of Asian-Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders should be recognized, preserved and interpreted for future generations. Hosted by the U. S. Department of the Interior, scholars, historians and national leaders discussed how the National Park Service can appropriately and more comprehensively identify and understand AAPI heritage and culture within places and artifacts.
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