In 2012, Secretary of the Interior, Kenneth Salazar called for an Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Initiative. This initiative seeks to ensure that the rich heritage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is documented and told through the National Historic Landmarks (NHL) Program.
It reflects the call to “actively engage diverse communities and strengthen partnerships to develop innovative communication and education strategies” as outlined in A Call to Action Preparing for a Second Century of Stewardship and Engagement. This initiative also addresses Call to Action #3 (History Lesson: Expand the meaning of parks to new audiences and provide an opportunity for communities to learn more about their heritage) and Call to Action #13 (Stop Talking and Listen: Learn about the challenges and opportunities associated with connecting diverse communities to the great outdoors and our collective history).
In January of 2013, a select panel of leading scholars and preservationists will meet in Los Angeles, California to exchange facts and information regarding the proposed theme study. These scholars include historians, architectural historians, and archeologists. They possess expertise in the history of various different ethnic groups in America and their scholarship covers a wide variety of historical periods and topics.
Members of this panel will help the NHL program develop a scholarly basis for evaluating properties of national significance associated with Asian American and Pacific Islander history and culture. Eventually, an NHL theme study will be produced, following the recommendations of the panel. Following the first meeting in Los Angeles, panel discussions will occur via teleconferencing and email.
The panel will work to:
- Identify all groups that should be encompassed by the theme study;
- Prepare an outline of the theme study that will capture the history and culture of each group and, in general, their contributions to the United States;
- Provide a framework for evaluating buildings, sites, and historic districts associated with the theme study;
- Identify properties that may be of exceptional national significance and worthy of NHL-designation.
Following the completion of a theme study, the National Historic Landmarks Program will present nominations for eligible properties which represent the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to the Landmarks Committee for consideration for designation.