Meeting in a Box: National Native American Heritage Month

October 24, 2013 7:38 pm

Meeting in a Box: National Native American Heritage Month

This Meeting in a Box tool is designed for distribution to ALL your employees. You may use portions of it or all of it. Each section is available as a separate PDF; you can forward the entire document or link to it on DiversityInc Best Practices; or you can print it out for employees who do not have Internet access.

November is National Native American Heritage Month, the perfect time to increase your entire company’s awareness of the rich culture and the educational and talent potential of America Indians. This Meeting in a Box is designed to make it easy for you to share the entire package or individual components with your employees. Each component is available in a web page that is easily printable.

We are supplying a Historic Timeline of battles, legislation and events impacting American Indians, their achievements in the United States, and areas where opportunity continue to exist; Facts & Figures that demonstrate continued educational inequities while noting progress with income and buying power; and our cultural-competence series “Things NOT to Say” focusing on American Indians in the workplace. This information should be distributed to your entire workforce and also should be used by your resource groups both internally and externally as a year-round educational tool.

[CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full Meeting in a Box, our diversity-management training and educational tool available only to Benchmarking customers and DiversityInc Best Practices subscribers.]


1. Historic Timeline

We recommend you start your employees’ cultural-competence lesson on American Indians by using this Historic Timeline, which documents struggles with the U.S. government, restitution, growth of tribal gambling and its impact, and American Indian leaders and success stories.

Discussion Questions for Employees

How accurate are your historic perceptions of American Indians? How has popular culture perpetuated stereotypes and misinformation? Discuss the dangers of stereotyping people and of making assumptions in the workplace about intelligence or ambition based on cultural misperceptions. Reference how stereotypes can force people to devalue their own contributions and bring less than their full selves to work each day.

What civil rights of American Indians have been impacted? Have the civil-rights movement and affirmative action benefited this group? Discuss the historic implications of systemic inequities and discrimination on a group. When a demographic is not a large percentage of the population, how can they and their advocates fight for equity?

Why are “firsts” important to note? What other barrier breakers have you witnessed in your lifetime? This is a personal discussion designed to help the employee note other barrier breakers historically. This discussion can be further explored after the Facts & Figures section below is discussed.

National Native American Heritage Month Timeline


2. Facts & Figures

After discussion of the Timeline, the next step is to review available data and understand how and why recognizing the important contributions of American Indians and their value to the workplace is essential.

The data we have chosen to present here represents information of relevance to corporate America, such as education (available labor pool), percentage of population, income and buying power.

Discussion Questions for Employees

How can your organization work to ensure equal educational opportunities for people from underrepresented groups in your community? Why is this important to the future of your business? Discuss what types of skills are most needed now and in the future at your company and how you can help reach, mentor and educate young people to fill those needs. Consider national research on where job shortages will be.

Does your workplace have a resource group for American Indians? If so, how does the group work to educate the workforce on the cultural heritage of American Indians? If not, do you see the need for such a group at your organization? If you don’t have a large enough population of American Indians, how can other groups increase cultural awareness of this important demographic?

How critical is it to have role models in an organization? And if you agree it is, how do you encourage people from underrepresented groups to be proud of their heritage? Many American Indians have mixed racial heritage. Why should they particularly identify as American Indians? What are the benefits of a corporate culture where people can be free to bring their whole selves to work?

National Native American Heritage Month Facts & Figures


3. Nine Things NOT to Say to American Indian Coworkers

Our popular “Things NOT to Say” series includes interviews with American Indians about offensive phrases they’ve heard in the workplace and how best to respond to them to further cultural-competence education.

Discussion Questions for Employees

What other phrases have you heard addressed to American Indians that were condescending or offensive?
Discuss how these phrases and stereotypes impact office morale and productivity. For more information on this topic, go to and

How do you feel about the use of American Indian names for sports teams? How should this be handled in the workplace?
When do discussions of “political correctness” offend some in the majority culture? How can we include the sensibilities of all groups without allowing bias in our workplaces?

After today’s lesson, what would you do if you overheard a colleague make one of these comments?
Continue the discussion with each employee having a plan of action on how to address offensive language.

National Native American Heritage Month Things NOT to Say


[CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full Meeting in a Box, our diversity-management training and educational tool available only to Benchmarking customers and DiversityInc Best Practices subscribers.]