8 Organizations Committed to Supporting Native American Professionals

During Native American Heritage Month, get familiar with these important organizations.

Since 1990, November has been recognized as Native American Heritage Month to recognize the contributions Native Americans have made to society and celebrate the community’s culture. However when it comes to the workplace, Native Americans face one of the highest rates of unemployment, 7.8%, and about one third of Native Americans say they’ve faced discrimination when seeking jobs. To combat these issues, there are numerous organizations that are dedicated to uplifting Native American professionals across a wide variety of industries. From mentorship and networking opportunities, to annual professional conferences, these organizations provide plenty of events and resources. This Native American Heritage Month we wanted to highlight organizations that are led by Native individuals, and work to support the Native American community. Whether you’re a company looking to forge partnerships for recruitment purposes or you’re a Native American professional looking to get involved, these organizations should be on your radar. 

The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED)

Established in 1969, NCAIED focuses on the business and economic development of Native American tribes. They now stand as the largest national Indian specific business organization in the nation. NCAIED works to expand the American Indian private sector, increase the number of tribal businesses, and positively impact reservation communities by creating relationships between Indian enterprises and private industry. They offer training services and a resource center for Native American entrepreneurs, and put on numerous conferences, trade fairs, and fundraising events to advance Indian Country development.  Plus, every year they put on a Reservation Economic Summit to provide networking opportunities, business development sessions, and one-on-one consulting to the Native American community. Around 50% of the businesses that attend are Tribal/Alaskan Native Corporations. 

American Indian Business Leaders (AIBL)

AIBL is the only non-profit organization in the country dedicated to empowering Native American business students. Their aim is to increase the representation of American Indians and Alaskan Natives in business and entrepreneurial ventures through education and professional development opportunities. They hold a conference every year where they run business plan competitions, elevator pitch competitions, and award an AIBL chapter of the year. They also offer a great internship program where they connect current students with paid, full-time positions across the country. In addition, the students receive a paid hotel and flight to the annual AIBL conference, a personal laptop, personalized business cards, and one-on-one career guidance to help them along the way. 

American Indian College Fund

The College Fund was founded in 1989 in order to support Native American students looking to access higher education. Only 14% of American Indians and Alaska Natives above the age of 25 have a college degree, so the College Fund provide scholarships, programming to improve Native student access to college, and resources for students once they’re enrolled in classes. They support the 35 tribal colleges around the country by funding different projects including campus infrastructure, language preservation, internships, and research. Through their support of Tribal Colleges they’re helping create better professional employment outcomes for thousands of Native American individuals every year while preserving their heritage. 

National Alaska Native American Indian Nurses Association (NANAINA) 

This organization is comprised of dedicated individuals working to improve the health and wellness of the Native American community. They focus on uplifting and supporting Native students, nurses, and health professionals. The group connects Native nurses at all different points in their careers, creating a space where younger students can be supported and inspired. They also hold an annual national conference with speakers from the Native American community who have made contributions to the healthcare industry. NANAINA is one association in the larger group of the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations, made up of over 350,000 nurses promoting the importance of diversity and equity in nursing. 

Native American Journalists Association (NAJA)

NAJA consists of over 500 journalists working to create better representation of Native Americans in the media while supporting Native journalists in their careers. They hold an annual National Native Media Conference which features sessions run by Indigenous journalists, journalism training and workshops, and insights on the media in Indian Country. NAJA offers a Native American Journalism Fellowship every year which pairs students with professional journalists who provide academic and professional mentorship, and the students receive three academic credits. The fellows then participate in a week-long news immersion that coincides with the annual conference. NAJA also helps students prepare for their professional career by posting internships on their website and providing journalism tools and resources. 

National Native American Bar Association (NNABA) 

The NNABA was started to address the unique cultural and legal issues the Native American community faces. They’re part of the Coalition of Bar Associations of Color, and work to protect the governmental sovereignty of the more than 560 independent Native American Tribal governments across the country. Within their organization they have the “Young Lawyers Committee” which focuses on Native lawyers early in their career. They provide opportunities for mentorship, professional development, networking, and programming. They also offer scholarships to students who demonstrate a commitment to serving the Native American community. 

Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations (WEWIN)

This organization provides women with the knowledge, support, and resources necessary to achieve success in their personal and professional lives. Every year they put on a three-day conference which aims to create strong networks between Native women, impact public policy, help foster economic growth, and support attendees personal and professional development. The many workshops focus on topics like leadership skills, finances, intergovernmental relations, and the power of the Native vote. They also have a WEWIN marketplace at the conference which allows women to showcase their arts, crafts, jewelry, and clothing that they create to promote their small businesses. 

Society of American Indian Government Employees (SAIGE)

SAIGE specifically focuses on representing American Indian and Alaska Native Federal, Tribal, State, and local government employees. They promote the recruitment, retention, development and advancement of Native government employees, provide a professional network among these employees, and work to ensure equal treatment under the law. For their members they offer an Annual National Training Program that focuses on professional development, leadership skills, and insights into the complex relationship of the Federal Indian Trust Responsibility. They also make a point to include their heritage in everything they do, and provide cultural presentations to increase awareness and understanding of tribal communities. 

All of these are Native American-led organizations that aim to assist the careers of students and early-career individuals in their community. Whether they’re of interest to professionals or employers, these organizations are great to recognize – and utilize – during the month of November and all year-round. 


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