Celebrate Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, Utah! Events are being held across the state throughout May and into this summer to celebrate the diversity and contributions of our AAPI Community.

What is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month?

Asian and Pacific Islander communities have long been essential to Utah’s growing landscape and this legacy endures as their diversity of thought, cultural influences, and values help continue to tell a more complete Utah story. 

Originally, Asian & Pacific American Heritage Month started through the U.S. Congress in 1977 when Rep. Frank Horton of New York introduced legislation to proclaim the first ten days in May as “Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week”. Later, Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii introduced a similar resolution in the Senate. It was not until 1978 that Rep. Horton introduced another resolution that passed, which proposed that a week-long commemoration be authorized by President Jimmy Carter. President Carter signed the resolution and over the years this led to the month-long celebration that we know today where each May is now designated as Asian & Pacific American Heritage Month (Asian & Pacific Heritage, U.S. Library of Congress). 

The month of May was chosen to honor the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 thanks largely to Chinese railroad workers. Year after year, this month highlights the rich diversity and history of Asian and Pacific Islander communities across the country to better understand the past, appreciate the present, and plan for the future. 

Eager to learn more? Check out the National Asian & Pacific Heritage Month page.



A legacy has been built since the arrival of Utah’s first Asian and Pacific Islander communities following the developments of the Transcontinental Railroad in the late 1800s, the settling of the Native Hawaiian community of Iosepa in Skull Valley, Utah in the 1880s, and waves of immigration and refugee resettlement across decades shown by families seeking hope, safety, and improved quality of life. 

Utah’s Asian Community

  • Utah’s Asian community is the fastest-growing racial group as of 2020 and has grown upwards of 50% in the past decade! (Kem C. Gardner, Diversity in Data Book; Salt Lake Tribune)
  • The Utah Asian Festival is the longest-running festival of its kind, west of the Mississippi. Founded in 1978 and going 46 years strong, the festival showcases Asian traditions, cuisine, dance, art, and music from the dozens of nationalities that make up Utah’s fastest-growing ethnic population. 

Utah’s Pacific Islander Community

  • Utah has the fifth largest concentration of Pacific Islanders across the nation, with more than a quarter of the nation's Tongan population residing in the state! (Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute)
  • Utah is unique in that it also recognizes August as Utah Pacific Islander Heritage Month starting from Gov. Gary Herbert’s first declaration back in 2012. Each year, a festival is hosted that celebrates the 50,000+ Pacific Islanders that live in the state.

Explore Events Across the State

Review the growing line-up of events across the state of Utah commemorating Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month! View the full event sheet here. Have additional events to share? Email us

Thank you to various community organizations for sharing these events. *Please visit each event's website to verify time, location, and any questions. This is a general overview of events and does not capture all details.


Asian and Pacific Islander communities have long been essential to Utah’s growing landscape and this legacy endures as their diversity of thought, cultural influences, and values help continue to tell a more complete Utah story.

"May provides an opportunity for us to learn about our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and recognize our contributions to Utah, in education or in the arts, in healthcare, sports, tech, or small businesses. Our unique cultures and traditions help make Utah vibrant and beautiful, and I invite us to explore and celebrate these cultures together."

Karen Liu
Chinese-American, Asian-American

Utah State Library Division

"AAPI histories and contributions are often overlooked in mainstream narratives but we have always been out here creating powerful community spaces and perspectives! It's always so beautiful to see the multitude of ways that we in the AAPI community celebrate our collective stories and joy this month!"

Frances Ngo
Chinese-American & Mexican-American

Tracy Aviary

"AAPI Heritage month is an opportunity for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders to support as well as share each others strengths. As a Tongan American I am grateful to be able to learn from and collaborate with Asian American communities. Equally important, it is crucial that we also honor all the distinct AANHPI ethnicities for their individual cultures, traditions & contributions."
Ofa Vista Matagi
Tongan American, Pacific Islander Community
AAPI State Caucus Chair & MLK Jr. Human Rights Commissioner, Utah Clean Energy’s Access & Equity Associate 

"This month means visibility for my people. It is a time of recognition and celebration of identities however we identify. It is about inclusivity, acceptance, love, respect, and appreciation for who we are and how we contribute positively to this country."

Oreta Masina Mapu-Tupola
Pacific Islander Community
Name meaning: The light, the moon, the song of a bird..

"AAPIHM is the time where I can educate those around me. I am in charge of a newsletter for my workplace and I like to highlight events and food during the entire month. Just like my parents, I like to share the love through food. Through food, I hope it will entice others to learn more about the origins of the dish."

Londa Chandra Leung

Cambodian Community

Khemera Dance Troupe 

"Salt Lake Community College hosted 6 AAPI Heritage Month events to showcase three important things: family, food, and fun. It is important to share with others our culture through dance, music, food, and storytelling. My hope is for others to embrace the multiplicity of our AAPI identities, and the intersectionality of all of our identities."

Bernice Mauinatu-Ova
Pacific Islander Community
Salt Lake Community College

"A rather broad term, Asian & Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island)."

Celebrate unity in diversity.

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