Meeting in a Box: National Native American Heritage Month

October 14, 2016 5:30 am


This Meeting in a Box tool is designed for distribution to all 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, and it’s time to increase your company’s awareness of not only the rich culture of Native Americans, but also their talent potential. 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 Timeline of battles, legislation and events impacting American Indians, including their achievements in the United States and areas where opportunity continues 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 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. Timeline

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

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.

Native American MIB 2016 Timeline JPEG


2. Facts & Figures

After discussion of the Timeline, the next step is to review available data and understand 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 exist 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.

Does your workplace have an employee 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?

Is it critical 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?

Identify the benefits of a corporate culture where people can be free to bring their whole selves to work.

Native American MIB 2016 Facts and Figures JPEG


3. Things NOT to Say to American Indians

Stephanie Duckworth took the opportunity to contribute to our “Things NOT to Say” series. As an American Indian, Duckworth shares her personal story and experiences of offensive phrases that she heard in the workplace.

Discussion Questions for Employees

What other condescending or offensive phrases have you heard addressed to American Indians?

Discuss how these phrases and stereotypes impact office morale and productivity.

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 accommodate 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 such a comment?

Continue the discussion with each employee and develop a plan of action on how to address offensive language.

Native American MIB 2016 Things NOT to Say JPEG