Each November, we honor the Native people of this land who carved out lives for their families through their accomplishments and historical legacy. This year's Native American Heritage Month (NAHM) theme, "In Our Voices," focuses on listening to Native American people to learn about their perspectives and experiences working at the National Institutes of Health. NIH firmly believes that highlighting voices from the Native American community is imperative to supporting our current workforce and attracting talent.
Following a recent town hall on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA), NIH senior leaders held a listening session to hear about issues affecting Native Americans in our workplace. The discussion highlighted what NIH staff can do individually and collectively to embed DEIA throughout the agency. Over 300 people attended the listening session and shared some of the challenges. For example, Native Americans are often reduced to one culture even though there are more than 574 federally recognized Tribes. Additional difficulties expressed to NIH leadership include a lack of:
- Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for Native American employees
- Recognition and awareness of Native American staff
- Prioritized outreach and recruitment of Native Americans.
- NIH is committed to addressing these challenges and others by ensuring close collaboration among the Office of Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), the Office of Human Resources, the Office of the Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity, and the Tribal Health Research Office. In addition, I welcome insight from the NIH community to guide our efforts on employment and research opportunities for Native Americans. We strive to ensure Native American communities are heard and plan to implement new initiatives to address the challenges in the coming months and years.
This November, we reaffirm NIH's commitment to working with Tribal nations on the best ways to strengthen our cultural competencies and recognize the contributions of Native people throughout the calendar year.
Please visit EDI'S Native American Portfolio page for more information about NAHM and events hosted by EDI.
Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Performing the Duties of the NIH Director