Pacific Islanders have made Washington State their home in the past 100 years and more. Historical records suggest that the presence of Pasifika/NHPI date back to the 18th century prior to any immigration from Asia. At that time, many Pasifika/NHPI came to the west coast and Northwest, began taking jobs along the coast and their numbers ran well over a thousand. NHPI help to the lay foundation for the Pacific Northwest, including Washington State, by feeding and sheltering 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 NHPIs, many of whom eventually settled in the Northwest, left their imprint on Washington’s social and economic life. Today, more NHPI live in Washington than anywhere in the US outside of Hawaii and California. King Co. is home to the 8th largest county of NHPIs in the U.S.
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.