Business Meets Culture at Nike’s Native American Network

Photo courtesy Shane Mckenzie/ NAN programming includes professional development and social events for the Native employees and Native-allied employees on Nike’s campus. Other efforts reach far beyond headquarters, bringing in people from all over Native country to participate in events that align with the network’s mission.

At Nike, you might not expect to find a strong presence of Native American culture and community.

But in fact, the Native American Network (NAN) has managed to instill just that. At Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, NAN is working everyday to make sure that the Native American voice is one that is valued and well represented.

NAN, one of eight diversity employee networks at Nike, has been effective at creating a presence of Native American culture at Nike. Its mission and purpose is to serve as a platform of support and professional development for Native American employees within the company, while also offering programming and creating a space for discussion, education, and community building surrounding the environment, Native American youth and families.

So, how does the NAN do it? Some of its programming is internal, like professional development and social events for the Native employees and Native-allied employees on campus. Other efforts reach far beyond headquarters by bringing in folks in from all over Native country to participate in events that align with the network’s mission.

Through its Native American Network — one of eight diversity employee networks at the company — Nike has been effective at creating a presence of Native American culture in its campus./ Photo courtesy Shyla Spicer.

In the past year, for example, it embarked on an initiative to celebrate Native American heritage through the lens of wellness. During Native American Heritage month, the Nike campus was surrounded by evidence of an Native American presence: the chefs in the kitchen coordinated with NAN to serve healthy, ancestral foods; the Native comic book designer Jeffrey Veregge was commissioned to design a superhero to envision wellness and movement; he then hosted an art talk with the Nike Design community to share contemporary Native design from his point of view.

NAN also hosted Native American fitness enthusiasts from around Native country to present information about Native wellness and to train Nike employees using Native fitness methods at the Bo Jackson Fitness Center at Nike World Headquarters. This included Thosh Collins and Chelsey Luger on behalf of the Well For Culture initiative; Lovina Louie with “Pow Wow Sweat;” and Acosia Red Elk with BUTI yoga.

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