The Wing



Asian Pacific Pioneers Across the Northwest

On display December 13, 2013 to October 19, 2014

Safeco Insurance Foundation Special Exhibition Gallery     

Lung On, whose story is featured in Grit, stands next to a sedan in John Day, Oregon.

Grit: Asian Pacific Pioneers Across the Northwest uncovers the true stories of the men and women who migrated to the Pacific Northwest from the Asia Pacific to start a new life. The exhibition highlights 16 sites spanning Washington State, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and British Columbia. The Pacific Northwest of the 19th and early 20th centuries could be an unforgiving place, from natural and man-made disasters to discrimination seen in policy and everyday life. By immersing visitors in local sites and personal lives, Grit reminds us of Asian Pacific Americans’ long history of fortitude and resilience as they established communities in the Pacific Northwest.

Grit presents a mix of archival photographs and documents, artifacts from archaeological investigations, and oral histories revealing the exceptional stories behind these and 12 other seemingly ordinary sites and figures in history. Rather than focus on a single, linear narrative of one ethnic group, the selection of sites reflect the diverse landscape of the Pacific Northwest and the experiences of Asian Pacific Americans, from urban centers to rural communities, from merchants to laborers, and more. The array of stories included in Grit asks visitors to revisit sites they thought they knew—such as Bainbridge Island, the Iron Goat Trail, and Whidbey Island—and to see them as a locus for stories of hardship, shame, success, and triumph.

Special Programs

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Pioneer Chinese Dinner 
Sit down with chef and culinary historian Maxine Chan to a meal that pays homage to the resourceful and delectable cuisine of Chinese pioneers of the late-1800s.

Friday, July 25 - Saturday, July 26, 2014

Hawaiian Festival and Kanaka Village Tour 
Join the celebration and hoopla at the three-day Hawaiian Festival! From workshops to concerts to food, the rich culture of the Islands comes to the Pacific Northwest. Also included is a tour of historic Kanaka Village.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Iron Goat Trail Hike
Retrace the steps of Japanese rail-workers who braved mountainous terrain and dangerous winters to complete the Great Northern Railway. Bring your hiking boots to discover this hidden history.

Learn more with Grit's Press Releases.

Featured Sites

Ah Hee Diggings (Granite, OR)
Camp Murray (Joint Base Lewis McChord, WA)
Chinese Cemetery (Baker City, OR)
Ebey’s Landing Prairie (Whidbey Island, WA)
Great Northern Railway west portal of the Cascade Tunnel (Wellington, WA)
Immigration and Naturalization Service Building (815 Airport Way S., Seattle, WA)
ILWU Local 37 Labor Union Hall (Seattle, WA)
Japanese American family farms (Bainbridge Island, WA)
Japanese Language School (Seattle, WA)
Kam Wah Chung Company (John Day, OR)
Kanaka Village (Fort Vancouver, WA)
Lummi Nation (North coast of Washington State, southern British Columbia)
Minidoka Concentration Camp (Jerome, ID)
Nippon Kan (Seattle, WA)
Pike Place Market (Seattle, WA)
Pope and Talbot Lumber Mill (Port Gamble, WA)
Star of Bengal shipwreck (Coronation Island, AK)

For more information about featured sites, download the exhibition brochure.         

Related Resources
The Wing and the U.S. Forest Service partnered to create Asian Pacific American Heritage Sites, a guide inspired by the jointly sponsored 2010 Chinese Heritage Tour of the American West. The guide is meant as a starting point for visitors to venture to the sites in person and stand face-to-face with history.

Community Partners and Sponsors

Grit is made possible by the support of community partners and the generosity of our donors and sponsors.

Community Partners

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Washington 
Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site, John Day, Oregon
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington
Port Gamble Historic Museum, Washington
Wallowa Whitman National Forest, Oregon


Season Sponsors
The Wing Donors

Exhibition Lead Sponsor


Exhibition Major Sponsor
The Peach Foundation

Media Sponsor
KUOW 94.9

Additional Season Support
JPMorgan Chase Foundation
MetLife Foundation
Seattle Office of Arts & Culture

Additional Exhibition Support
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
The Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation
KeyBank Foundation
Muckleshoot Charity Fund
US Bancorp

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