Nevada dedicates day to Asian Americans

Photo Credit: Victoria Tambunting

Photo Credit: Victoria Tambunting

LAS VEGAS -- Nearly 3 million people live in the entire state of Nevada, according to the most recent estimate. Just short of nine percent* of those living in Nevada - 8.7 percent, to be exact - are of Asian American descent, according to the 2017 census estimate. The Asian American representation in Nevada is pale in comparison to, say, California, where 14.8 percent of the Golden State’s 37.2 million people identify as Asian American. Yet the Silver State claims to be among the first to dedicate a full day to Asian Americans.

“Asian Culture Day,” which was celebrated in Las Vegas on May 18, was the brainchild of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and State Sen. Scott Hammond. Members of the Asian American Group officially commemorated “Asian American Day” during a May 18 dinner ceremony just south of Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport. Representatives from China, India, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and other Asiatic countries were on hand to celebrate the pseudo-political festivity.

A proclamation from the governor’s desk acknowledged the contributions Asians Americans made to the state of Nevada, hence justifying to recognize the conglomeration of cultures and nations residing under the lump sum political identity created 50 years ago.

“Asians and Asian-Americans were instrumental m the settlement and early development of the State of Nevada,” Sandoval’s proclamation, which was signed into existence in 2017, stated. “The culture and traditions shared by Asians and Asian Americans in the Silver State have enriched the lives of all of the residents of this state. There are more than 17,500 businesses owned by Asians and Asian Americans within Nevada, adding to the rich diversity of the cities and counties of [Nevada].”

The dedication of “Asian Culture Day” was apparently spearheaded by Hammond, an educator who was born in Syracuse and named “Educator of the Year” at Indian Springs High School in 2002. He was elected to the Nevada Assembly in 2010 and then the State Senate in 2012. His 18th senatorial district represents a portion of Clark County, which is home to the city of Las Vegas.

Hammond introduced Senate Bill 175 - the legislation responsible for creating “Asian Culture Day” - in February 2017. SB 175 had proclaimed “Asian Culture Day” as Nov. 12, 2017, in honor of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the first (provisional) president of the Republic of China (1912-1949); Yat-sen was born on Nov. 12, 1866.

Yat-sen, according to a biography posted by The Asia Society, became a doctor in 1892. His medical career did not last long, however, as Yat-sen founded his first revolutionary organization - Revive China Society - in 1894. The flag used by the Revive China Society was eventually incorporated into the current flag of Taiwan, according to Asia Society’s biography of Yat-sen.

The fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912 led to Yat-sen’s succession to the Republic of China’s presidency. He abdicated his office 45 days later, however, handing the presidency to a military leader (Yuan Shikai). Yat-sen moved on to establish the “Nationalist Party.”

A CNN profile on Yat-sen identified him as “the father of modern China.”

“Like many activists, Sun was troubled by the Qing court's resistance to reform and its lack of resistance to the Western powers. In 1895 he helped plot an uprising in Canton,” the CNN profile, which was published in 1999, stated. “When the scheme failed, he embarked on what would become a 16-year exile abroad. He went to London, then to Japan, where he spent time courting potential backers.”

The CNN profile added Yat-sen’s legacy was not so much his politics but his “Three Principles of the People.”

“Sun’s philosophy, honed over many decades, boiled down to “Three Principles of the People:” nationalism, democracy and people's livelihood,” the CNN profile on Yat-sen stated. “‘Nationalism’ involved the overthrow of the emperor and the ending of international hegemony over China; ‘democracy’ meant a republican, elected form of government; ‘people's livelihood’ called for extensive land reform.”

Yat-sen and his “Three Principles of the People,” interestingly enough, helped spawn the “Asian Culture Day” commemoration in Nevada. Hammond’s SB 175 might have initially recognized Nov. 12 as “Asian Culture Day,” but Sandoval’s proclamation eventually shifted the celebration to May 18.

The recognized day would promote the many diverse cultures and nations represented under the Asian American umbrella - while also boasting Las Vegas as a destination for non-resident Asian nationals, according to a website dedicated to “Asian Culture Day.”

Asian Americans are recognized at local and federal levels, outside of Nevada. Boston, for example, as celebrated “Asian American Day” since 2011, while “Asian Pacific Heritage Month,” which is celebrated in May, was established by Congress in 1977. It remains to be seen when (or whether) other cities and states will have similar annual dedications to Asian Americans as a whole (be it in day, week or month format).

*- The 2017 census estimate represents those who are Asian American only - anyone of mixed background (such as Asian American and White or Asian American and Black, for example) are not included.