Inside our parks While at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in Seattle last week, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said he has directed the National Park Service to undertake an Asian American Pacific Islander theme study. The purpose is to investigate the stories, places and people of Asian American and Pacific Island heritage.
The new study is part of a broader effort to commemorate and tell the story of minorities and women who have made significant contributions to our nation’s history and culture.
“Each of the 398 national parks represents a thread in the great tapestry that tells the story of our beautiful land, our diverse culture and our nation’s rich heritage, but too often lost is the story of women and minorities who have helped build our great nation,” Salazar said in making the announcement. “From Angel Island, where more than one million Asian immigrants arrived on these shores, to the Chinese immigrants who built the railroads across the country to the Japanese-American internment camps of World War II, these are stories that will be part of the next chapter in our continued efforts to better tell the story of all of America and her people.”
Salazar also announced that he has designated the museum an “affiliated area” of the National Park Service. The designation recognizes the national significance of properties that are privately owned and operated but encompass important aspects of our nation’s heritage for which an official association with the Park Service would be mutually beneficial.
Wing Luke’s designation as an affiliated area will link the museum with other nationally significant Asian Pacific American sites within the park system and allow the museum to tap into technical assistance from the National Park Service.
“Asian Americans have played a significant role in the history of the United States, including participating in the early settlement of the country, contributing to the economic development of the American West, and playing a role in the desegregation of public schools in the 20th century,” said National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, who was on hand for the announcement. “Their accomplishments and struggles are an important part of the American story, worthy of preservation in America’s national parks and deserving of the recognition that our historic preservation programs offer.”
The National Register of Historic Places includes more than 88,000 entries, incorporating more than 1.7 million individual buildings and sites representing local, state or nationally significant people, places and events. Of the more than 2,500 National Historic Landmarks, less than 8 percent can be identified as representing the stories associated with African Americans, American Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, American Indians, Native Alaskans and Native Hawaiians, or women.
Over the next 12-18 months, the Park Service will work with the Wing Luke Museum and the Japanese American National Museum and scholars representing the Asian American and Pacific Islander-American communities to explore ways to celebrate and interpret their heritage. The Service’s National Historic Landmark program will develop a theme study to guide future nominations of National Historic Landmarks and National Register properties.
Founded in 1967, the Wing Luke Museum is located in the heart of Seattle’s International District, a National Register-listed historic district. The museum tells the story of Asian Pacific people and how they came to thrive in the United States. Named after Wing Luke, the first Asian Pacific American elected to public office in the Pacific Northwest, it is the only museum devoted to the multicultural Asian Pacific American experience.
Mountain road reminder
Visitors to Mount Rainier National Park should remember the road between Longmire and Paradise is closed to public travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Longmire and the park remain open seven days a week, barring major storms. The closure is scheduled to be in place through March 27.
At Olympic National Park, Hurricane Ridge Road is open Fridays-Sundays, weather permitting.
Also, all vehicles are required to carry tire chains when entering Mount Rainier and those people traveling above Heart O’ the Hills entrance station on Hurricane Ridge Road at Olympic. The chain requirement is in place through April 1.