Native American Heritage Month 2022

Native American Heritage Month. In Our Voices. Abstract painting by Oscar Howe.

The National Institutes of Health celebrates November as Native American Heritage Month as we remain deeply committed to the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in our research and workplace. During this month we pay tribute to the many contributions made by Native Americans. Our hope in the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) is to continue to acknowledge the contributions of Native Americans and work to help eliminate discrimination throughout the year.

Smiling Native American Woman

...we are still here, and we have so much to say about how we live.
- Princess Daazhraii Johnson, GW Magazine

In Our Voices banner featuring head shots of six Native American interns.

In Our Voices: Native Pride

In Our Voices: What to Expect

In Our Voices: Who Are We

In Our Voices: Why NIH

Messages from our Leadership

Dr. Tabak


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 NNAHM and events hosted by EDI.


Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Performing the Duties of the NIH Director

Kevin D. Williams, Esq.

Dear NIH Community,

As National Native American History Month closes, I want to express my gratitude to our Native American colleagues who have made many significant contributions at the NIH. As the Director of the NIH Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), I pledge to address the workforce needs of the Native American communities and to move us toward the development of actionable solutions that address challenges.

Native Americans at NIH are identifying and prioritizing overall barriers to health research, education, and training in their communities. For example, the National Institute for General Medical Sciences, in conjunction with other NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices, are partnering closely with the Indian Health Service to support the Native American Research Centers for Health. This program aims to reduce health disparities in the American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations; support health research projects identified by the AI/AN communities; and enhance health research partnerships with an emphasis on developing interesting future scientists and health research professionals that want to work with and outside the AI/AN communities.

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 Native American researchers at NIH. To learn more about how you can support the Native American Portfolio, please visit EDI’s Native American Portfolio web page.

Please watch the videos below as we continue to celebrate this year’s theme, “In Our Voices,” highlighting NIH’s current AI/AN interns, their experiences, and hopes for the future:

Finally, if you are interested in taking an active role to promote diversity and inclusion at the NIH, please consider connecting with other NIH staff by joining or creating an Employee Resource Group (ERG). An ERG is an organizationally supported group of employees drawn together by social identity, allyship, advocacy, networks, or resources that the group has in common. Any group seeking recognition as an ERG at NIH should submit a request to EDI at


Kevin D. Williams, Esquire
Director, Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
National Institutes of Health


Young Native American man sitting with his arms wrapped around his knees.

Native American Heritage Month Guest Lecture

Wednesday, November 16, 2022 | 3:00 - 4:30 pm EDT

The NIH Tribal Health Research Office (THRO) will host a guest lecture for Native American Heritage Month.

Author: Dr. Pamela Miller and Ms. Vi Waghiyi

If we can tell our stories, if people can see our work and see us, then it's a natural process. It's a natural journey for people to feel commonality with people.
- Diane Fraher, founder of the American Indian Artists Inc.

Smiling Native American Woman
About the Hero Image. Picture of the artist, Oscar Howe

Oscar Howe (1915 –1983) is a Yanktonai Native American artist from South Dakota, who defiantly protested the limitations placed on Native American art. Howe’s modernist painting style is defined by the dynamic lines, vibrant colors, and motion that captured his Dakota heritage and tumultuous childhood. According to Howe’s biography, his 1958 piece, Umini Wacipi (War and Peace Dance) was rejected by the Philbrook Art Center for not being a “traditional Indian painting.” He wrote, “Are we to be held back forever with one phase of Indian painting, that is the most common way? We are to be herded like a bunch of sheep, with no right for individualism, dictated as the Indian has always been, put on reservations and treated like a child...”

In hopes of honoring Howe’s legacy of breaking boundaries and limitations, the 2022 Native American Heritage Month Hero image showcases his revolutionary work, Dance of the Heyoka. The theme, “In Our Voices” disputes harmful monolithic stereotypes and seeks to recognize the rich intersectionality and diversity of traditions, languages, artistic styles, and beliefs that exist within the Native American community.