Skip to main content

From the NIH Director: 2021 National Native American Heritage Month

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

Dear NIH Family:

NIH is honored to celebrate the triumphs of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) during National Native American Heritage Month. This year’s theme, Rising Above Adversity: Bringing Native Voices to the Forefront, centers on the history and journey of Native Americans as sovereign Nations with distinct cultures who have made numerous meaningful contributions to our society. It is an important reminder to help amplify Tribal voices to eliminate biases and barriers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tribal communities across the country demonstrated extraordinary strength in the face of adversity. We acknowledge the leadership, determination, and resilience shown by tribes working tirelessly to prioritize their communities’ health.

On January 26, the Biden Administration released the Executive Memorandum on Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships. The U.S. has made solemn promises to Tribal Nations for more than two centuries. Honoring those commitments is particularly vital now, as our Nation faces crises related to health, the economy, racial justice, and climate change — all of which disproportionately harm Native Americans. Furthermore, on October 11, the Biden Administration released Executive Order 14049, the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Native Americans and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities. I fully support this policy to broaden access and advance inclusion efforts in education for Native American communities.

Throughout November, please visit the NIH Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) website and explore the online campaign celebrating National Native American Heritage Month. I encourage everyone to join EDI this month as we celebrate this important observance. On November 9, 2021, from 12 to 1 p.m. ET, consider attending Leading through Allyship, a virtual panel discussion featuring professionals from across NIH. We are committed to doing the work required to bridge gaps and build long-term trust. Together, let’s support and stand in solidarity with Native American communities.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can support the Native American Portfolio and the work EDI is doing to highlight and promote diversity and inclusion at NIH, please visit EDI’s Native American Portfolio web page. I also invite you to learn about NIH’s Tribal Health Research Office, which coordinates Tribal health research across NIH, gathers input from Tribal communities on NIH policies, programs, and activities, and creates opportunities for the next generation of AI/AN researchers at NIH.

Sincerely yours,

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
NIH Director

Do you have a story idea for us? Do you want to submit a guest blog? If it's about equity, diversity, or inclusion, please submit to

For news, updates, and videos, subscribe or follow EDI on: Twitter, Instagram, Blog, YouTube.