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Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Island Special Emphasis Program

The purpose of the Asian American| Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Special Emphasis Program is to provide focus on such issues as employment, retention, promotion, training, career development, and advancement opportunities affecting Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders.

It is NRCS policy to conduct a positive and continuing program that provides equal employment opportunity for Asian Americans and NHPI in all personnel management policies and practices and in NRCS sponsored programs and activities. The Asian American| Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Emphasis Program operates under this premise.  On October 14, 2009, President Obama through Executive Order restored the White House Initiative and President’s Advisory Commission on both the Asian American Community and NHPI Community to address issues concerning both communities.  

The OMB Statistical Policy Directive No. 15 (OMB 15), which was revised to disaggregate NHPI data from the API category as a result of advocacy efforts by the NHPI community. The reasons for disaggregation were: a) the need to identify health disparities and issues within the NHPI populations apart from the Asian American populations within the United States; and b) the need to recognize and protect the unique relationship and political status that Native Hawaiians and certain Pacific Islanders have with the United States through deeds of cession, compacts of free association, and annexation. Native Hawaiians, Samoans and Chamoru are indigenous peoples to the State of Hawaii, the U.S. Territory of American Samoa and the U.S. Territory of Guam respectively. 8 out of 10 Pacific Islanders in the U.S. are native to the United States

Avoiding the overly broad Asian Pacific Islander (API) racial category is a continuing process that is necessary for the collection and publication of data. Such labels mask significant disparities between NHPI and Asian Americans across key socioeconomic characteristics by assuming a monolithic whole. 

An Asian American can be defined as a person having origins in any of the original peoples of East Asia (Mainland China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau) Southeast Asia (Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, and Malaysia), and South Asia the Indian subcontinent (Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka).

Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander can be defined as a person having origins in any of the indigenous peoples of Oceania. Oceania is comprised of three major island groups: Polynesia (for example New Zealand, Easter Island, Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau, etc.), Micronesia (for example Carolina Islands, Marshall Islands, Mariana Islands) and Melanesia (for example Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, West Papua, and Papua New Guinea).  The term "Native Hawaiian" does not include individuals who are native to the State of Hawaii by virtue of being born there, but are indigenous peoples of Hawaii.

 Program Objectives

The Asian American/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Emphasis Program is an integral part of the overall equal employment opportunity (EEO) program and is designed to—

(1) Ensure that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders receive equal treatment in all aspects of employment.

(2) Increase the number of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders employed in all professional, administrative, technical, clerical, and other categories, series, and grade levels.

(3) Provide opportunities to participate in training, career development, and leadership programs.

(4) Encourage the participation of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders in all NRCS-sponsored programs and activities.

(5) Provide a network of professional support for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders in the workplace.

(6) Provide mentoring support to Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders in the workforce.

(7) Educate all NRCS employees by raising the level of awareness of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander workplace issues and concerns.

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month – The observance began in 1979 as Asian Heritage Week, established by congressional proclamation. Asian leaders embraced the inclusion of Pacific Islanders for in many communities such as in Hawaii, Asians and Pacific Islanders had long lived together and the numbers of Pacific Islanders were viewed as too small to "stand alone" in the eyes of federal administrators. In May 1990, the holiday was expanded further when President George Bush signed a proclamation making it month-long for that year. In 2009 President B Obama issued Presidential Proclamation 8369 recalling the challenges faced by both the Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Communities. On October 14, 2009 Presidential Obama through Executive Order restored the White House Initiative and President's Advisory Commission on both the Asian American Community and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Community to address issues concerning both communities. The month of May was chosen to commemorate two significant events in history: the immigration of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 (Golden Spike Day). The diversity and common experiences of the many ethnic groups are celebrated during Asian American| Pacific Islander Heritage Month with numerous community festivals as well as government-sponsored activities.  

Every year communities across the U.S. pay a month-long tribute and special day observances to the generations of pioneers, minorities, veterans, native people, and that history records who have enriched America's economy, identity, and history. These heritage months showcase our diverse tapestry and affirms our commitment to the inclusion of all people. The dedicated heritage months serve to aid in the expansion of ideas and insights by appreciating the heritage, genius, folklore, artistry, achievements, and acknowledging the many struggles. We welcome the celebration of heritage month and encourage you to experience culture by participating in its traditions and customs. There are numerous festivals, musical events, theatrical performances, films, poetry readings, and cultural activities that happen each year all across the U.S.

These heritage months continue to honor the achievements and acknowledge the many contributions to this great culture. The educational events honor the extraordinary range of experiences, from ancient traditions, to the contemporary voices of our artists and story tellers, and highlights the vibrant cultural traditions that continue to shape the many unique cultures that we enjoy. Each educational component you participate in or coordinate is developed to help participants think broadly and critically about the American experience in all of its complexity but is fair and balanced. What represents the heart and soul of each heritage month are the steps taken in the past, and the lessons learned that looks towards the future with a contemporary edge. We continue to celebrate the cultural traditions that continue to shape the unique heritage of our nation and we invite you to join the many employees who with intellect, emotion, and diversity enrich the quality of life in our workplace.

Interesting Links: - Professional APIO NRCS employee organization