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Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the Inland Northwest

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is celebrated every year in the month of May. We're highlighting AAPI community members.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Asian and Pacific Islander Americans make up about 6% of the U.S. population. That's more than 20 million people. Not only that, but the ancestral roots of AAPI people represent more than 50% of the world.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is celebrated every year in the month of May. It's celebrated in May to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad. The nearly 2 thousand mile stretch of tracks was completed on May 10 in 1869.

It was the first continuous railroad line to cross North America and the majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese Immigrants.

These are the countries included under the category of Asian American and Pacific Islander. There are a total of 48 countries within Asia, including China, India, the Philippines, Russia, Iran and many more. The regions of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia are sub-regions of Oceania. Polynesia is made up of more than 1000 islands scattered over the central and southern pacific ocean. They are also included in May's heritage month celebration.

Credit: KREM

KREM 2 is highlighting AAPI members in our community. Here are some of our favorite local businesses, restaurants and events you should check out in the Inland Northwest.

A Candid Conversation

While KREM is focused on celebrating culture this month, we also recognize the significant increase in hate crimes against the AAPI community. That's why Tim Pham went behind the camera to speak with AAPI team members at KREM to have a candid conversation about growing up in America as Asian American and Pacific Islanders.

Umi Kitchen & Sushi Bar

This restaurant is located in Kendall Yards. It offers traditional "Omakase" style; a Japanese phrase that means "I'll leave it up to you," according to the restaurant's website. If a customer chooses this option, Umi chefs make the selection and make something for you. One of their chefs taught Up with KREM how to make sushi. 


Spokane Chinese Association

The Spokane Chinese Association is a nonprofit with the goal of uniting people of Chinese culture in Spokane. They will be featured at the AAPI Heritage Day being hosted by Spokane United We Stand.

The president of the Chinese association, Weiling Zhu, joined the Up with KREM team to share what they're bringing to the event. She taught them the best way to use chopsticks and how to write the word 'blessing' in Mandarin. She even wrote the anchors names in Mandarin and told them their meaning.

Learning how to use chopsticks like a pro:


Learning how to write in Mandarin:

Learning names in Mandarin:

Northwest Hula Company

The Northwest Hula Company is the only professional Hula dance entertainment company in Spokane with over 100 students learning Hula in camps and classes each year.

They taught Danamarie McNicholl how to hula and explained the meaning behind the movements. Danamarie then taught the other Up with KREM anchors what she learned on-air!

Spokane's Chinatown

Over 100 years ago, Spokane had it's own Chinatown! We spoke with history professor Liping Zhu from Eastern Washington University about what happened to the city within our town and what cultural pieces are still there to see today.

RELATED: New generations of Asian immigrants address the 'lunchbox moment'

Kuni's Thai Cuisine

Kuni Collington co-owns Kuni's Thai Cuisine with her husband Rick and associate Mui Start. Head Chef Patty cooked the Up with KREM team some delicious food for the station which Tim Pham was able to try on air! They told us about their variety of cuisine and the new outdoor dining space coming this summer. 

d'bali Asian Bistro

Mamma Jeanie Choi is an expert when it comes to Southeast Asian cuisine. She's the owner and chef at d'bali Asian Bistro. While the AAPI community includes many countries, d'bali includes a wide range of comfort food focused on Southeast Asia.

Inland Curry

Noreen Hiski is the chef and owner of Inland Curry. Her restaurant recently hosted a 'Show up for India' fundraiser inspired by Hiski's family that lives in India. They raised more than $12,000 in coronavirus relief for India.

RELATED: How to help with India's COVID outbreak from Spokane

She joined the Up with KREM team to explain what curry is and what it isn't. 

Bystander Intervention Training at EWU

Dr. Pui-Yan Lam is a sociology professor at Eastern Washington University. Lam recently hosted a training for bystander intervention. She joined the Up with KREM team to explain the 5D's of bystander intervention and why sometimes confronting the harasser isn't always the right path to go down.

WSU AAPI Student Center

Dominique Faga-autau is the Retention Counselor for the Asian-American & Pacific Islander Center at Washington State University. He told Up with KREM about what it's been like helping AAPI students feel connected, despite most conversations happening over Zoom. 

Mangrove Cafe

Ratree Shadduck moved to the U.S. after meeting her husband in Thailand while he was in the Air Force. They now co-own Mangrove Cafe, a restaurant located inside a renovated Spokane Valley house! They serve a mix of flavors she's learned from living around the world including Thai cuisine and freshly-made baked goods.

Jamie Aquino with the Kitchen Engine

Jamie Aquino is a culinary instructor at the Kitchen Engine in Spokane. She teaches plant-based dishes and has a particular knack for Filipino food. She showed the Up with KREM team how to make her grandmother's pancit.

RELATED: 'I hope they feel that they aren’t alone': Spokane-based nonbinary Asian American artist prioritizes representation in their art

RELATED: Kim's Restaurant brings down home Korean cooking to the heart of Spokane