Clockwise from top right: Sunrise in Hawaii, Palm tree from Palau, Children in Micronesia, Petrogylph in Guam, House in Marshal Islands, historic photograph of sugar cane worker in Hawaii, site in Palau, two women weaving in American Samoa
Collage images courtesy of NPS, Guam and Palau Historic Preservation Offices, and Library of Congress [AEP-MIN73]. Photograph in bottom right corner of collage courtesy of Tim Rock/Double Blue Images, firstname.lastname@example.org
The National Register of Historic Places recongnizes the historical contributions of Asian and Pacific peoples in the United States and its associated territories. From the early 1800s to the late 20th century, Asian and Pacific peoples have played a vital role in the development of the United States and made lasting contributions in all elements of American society. The month of May is National Asian-Pacific Heritage Month. This year, as part of the recognition, we are showcasing the rich heritage of Micronesia by highlighting the islands' listed historic places. Join the National Register in commemorating just a few of the places where Asian and Pacific people have made history.
In the western Pacific Ocean, straddled between the Philippines and Hawaii, some 2,100 islands are scattered over three million square miles. These islands make up the area known as Micronesia. Their total landmass is smaller than Rhode Island. The islands' unique landscapes, formed in part by volcanic activity and featuring coral atolls, rain forests, and colorful lagoons, fostered a world of exceptional cultures. Its geographic area has been strategically important to many nations in the past. The rich history reflects a panorama of societies buffeted for centuries by warring and trading nations of the east and west. Evidence indicates that the islands were first settled over 2,000 years ago. Vigorous and diverse cultures developed in each island group, linked by a far-flung network of trade and commerce conducted by intrepid voyagers in outrigger canoes.
Spanish sailors, including Magellan, were the first Europeans to explore Micronesia. The Marianas served as a stopping point for the famous Manila Galleon trade. They found inhabited islands rich in copra, sandalwood, turtle and pearl, schools of whales, and established colonies on many of the islands. The Spanish flag flew over the Northern Marianas and Guam beginning in the 1500s. In 1885 Germany took possession of the Marshall Islands (RMI), while Spain retained control of other island groups. By 1898, however, all of Spain's possessions had been sold to Germany, with the exception of Guam, which had been taken by the United States during the Spanish-American War. After Germany's defeat in World War I, Japan administered most of Micronesia under a new League of Nations mandate. Fierce battles between the Japanese and Allied Forces were fought on the islands during World War II. After the war, the United States administered much of Micronesia under United Nations auspices. The islands, except for Guam, Nauru and Kiribati (the latter two, members of the British Commonwealth), were known as the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.
Today, Guam remains a territory of the United States. In the 1970s, citizens of the old Trust Territory organized four new governments: the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the RMI, and the Republic of Palau. Of these, the Marianas are an American Commonwealth and the other three are in a unique relationship with the United States known as "Free Association."
Each major island group in Micronesia has sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Click on an island group below to discover its historic places:
This program offers a series of award-winning lesson plans that use places listed in the National Register to enliven the study of history, social studies, and geography. TwHP has two ready-to-use lesson plans, available for free downloading, that examine important aspects of Asian-Pacific history.
Locke and Walnut Grove:
Pearl Harbor: The USS Arizona Memorial
Visit Seattle's International District (Chinatown), which combines Asian and Western architectural traditions into a uniquely American neighborhood.
Pacific Islander Heritage
Resources Divison of Guam explains the mission of this government
office, and provides information on news and events, and a virtual
tour of the island's historic sites.
Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California, is a publication of the California Parks and Recreation Department, which contains valuable information on the experience of Chinese Americans and Japanese Americans in the state.
Confinement and Ethnicity: An Overview of World War II Japanese American Relocation Sites
"CRM" is the flagship publication of the NPs Cultural Resources Stewardship and Partnership Programs and contains articles on the full range of cultural resources management and preservation topics. The following issues deal directly with questions regarding Asian and Pacific Islands cultural resources.
Another View from Hawai'i
Approaches to Heritage: Hawaiian and Pacific Perspectives on Preservation
Preservation in the Pacific Basin
National Register Information System
Library of Congress: Built in America (HABS/HAER)