By Brittany Ward
May 3, 2018

It’s already First Friday time again, summer break is on the horizon and more importantly it’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. This Friday at the Nebraska History Museum, 131 Centennial Mall North, there will be a special after-hours event celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month from 5 to 7 p.m.. This History Nebraska event is presented in partnership with the Asian Community and Cultural Center, Fly Over Media and Lincoln City Library.

After 140 years, the Nebraska State Historical Society has changed its name to History Nebraska, to push Nebraska into the future with an emphasis on providing easier access to Nebraska’s history. “Preserving the Past, Building the Future,” is a fitting new tag line for the rebranded, renamed and redesigned organization. As partnerships and diversity are important initiatives for Nebraska History, hosting this event again this year was highly anticipated and will include a variety of activities and traditional entertainment. Nebraska has a rich history from many different backgrounds and it is important to the organization to bring that history to light.

Since the 1980s, Lincoln has been dubbed a refugee-friendly city and has resettled about 5,500 refugees. According to the Asian Community Center’s website, “Lancaster County is the 18th largest resettlement area in the country for Asian immigrants and refugees.”

Refugees and immigrants are an integral part of the Lincoln community with popular businesses all around town. According to the Karen Society of Nebraska website “There are approximately 5,500 Karen living in Nebraska with an additional 300 refugees from other ethnic groups in Burma. Omaha currently has the largest and fastest growing Karen population.”

In 1992, with aspirations of creating a community space for education, welfare, recreation, fellowship and cultural preservation in Lincoln, the Asian Community and Cultural Center was born. On October 1, 1994, the center opened its doors and has continued to grow ever since and became an Independent 501 (c)(3) Non-Profit Corporation in the late 90s. The Asian Community and Cultural Center hosts a Cultural Exchange Bazaar every second Saturday of the month along with a plethora of other events happening every month. The Center is not only a place for the Asian Community but also welcomes and is home to people from all different backgrounds.

Karen people are indigenous to the Thailand-Myanmar (Burma) border region in Southeast Asia (the Karen State) with thousands of Karen people living in refugee camps in Thailand. Political, ethnic and religious conflicts have been raging since the 1950s, and Myanmar has been having a long and complicated civil war that has displaced millions of people.

The Nebraska History Museum’s After Hours event on Friday will begin at 5 p.m. with the Jing Mo Tong Lion Dancers, professional dancers from the Asian community, Untold Migrant Stories from Karen students at Lincoln High, storytelling for children, Karen dance performances traditional food andarts and crafts. One of the featured exhibits for the night is “Looking Past Skin: Our Common Threads,” which includes a timeline of migration to Nebraska from the First Peoples to the present. The exhibit includes the most recent immigrants and refugees as well as many new and old treasures.

Sharon Kennedy, the museum’s Curator of Education, hopes the event will help visitorsl gain a better understanding and appreciate of Asian culture in Nebraska.after

“The History Nebraska museum belongs to them and they can visit anytime and find important and relevant stories about Nebraska history,” Kennedy said.

Find more information about Friday’s event on the Facebook event page. For future events and more information check out the Nebraska History Museum’s website and Facebook page.

Event Photo

Brittany Ward is an editorial intern with KZUM.