Pacific Islanders have made Washington State their home in the past 200 years and more. Historical records suggest that the presence of Pasifika (NH/PI) date back to the 18th century prior to any immigration from Asia. At that time, many Pasifikans came to the west coast and Northwest, began taking jobs along the coast and their numbers ran well over a thousand. NHPIs were brought in to support the early missionaries, laboring for early business ventures in the area, and contributing to the economic tenure of enterprises, such as the Hudson Bay Company. These early NH/PIs, many of whom eventually settled in the Northwest, left their imprint on Washington’s social and economic life. Today, more NH/PI live in Washington than anywhere in the US outside of Hawaii and California. King County is home to the 8th largest population of NH/PIs out all of U.S. counties. According to a report released by WHIAAPI, 8 out of 10 Pacific Islanders in the United States are Indigenous to US colonial territories that were ceded through statehood and through Pacific territories.
In 1997, the US Office of Management and Budget assigned a reporting distinction for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders from the Asian category. This disaggregation lead to initiatives from the Pasifika community to branch off and begin to build infrastructure across the country to address the gaps in services, access, policies, leadership and political/social capital that our communities need to thrive in this country. Since the 1970s, our Pasifika community have been fighting alongside other Black and Brown communities in co-leading the civil rights efforts of our region. They have added to the arts from starting Halau schools, excelling in local athletic programs, bringing in their entrepreneurial spirit and politicizing their Indigenous values to align with Native American efforts to protect Earth, Mountains, Ocean and Waters from human exploitation and abuse. Our Pasifika communities are gifted and have added so much life to the Pacific Northwest.
The Pacific Islander Community Association is an iteration of the mana of our communities. We come alongside local Coast Salish tribes to ensure that we are co-stewarding the resources with our sisters and brothers who are indigenous on these lands and offer up our solidarity in supporting sovereignty of Washington Tribes.
The Pacific Islander Community Association of WA (PICA-WA) serves as a cultural home, centers community power and advocates to further the wellness of Pacific Islander communities in Washington State.
Pacific Islander communities are thriving physically, culturally, socially & spiritually.
Tropicbird Motif: The Red-tailed Tropicbird is native to Oceania. Its feathers are often used in ceremonial regalia throughout the Pacific. The Tropicbird is known to always return home no matter how far it travels. The Pasifika Diaspora, while far away from home, like the tropicbird, we are tethered to our cultural homelands.
Moon Motif: The moon is seen as the Goddess of Beauty and Clarity in many island traditions. It is the divine feminine energy, that brings clarity and wholeness of thought. The moon represents our Pasifika wisdom traditions that keep up grounded. It is our commitment to always center the wisdom of our ancestors.
Star Motif: Pasifika Navigators, when wayfinding, have to “see the island”, through the storms and through the vastness of the Ocean to stay the course. The star represents the “island destiny” we are journeying towards together with our canoes side by side traveling in unison. The star also represents our familial ties to the cosmic bodies as a part of our kinship in our creation stories.