Nike representative works to inspire Native youth
By Lailani Upham
gather around Nike General Manager for N7 Sam McCracken after
presentation on N7 opportunities last week. (Lailani Upham photo)
PABLO — “It’s not through your words but through your actions,” said
Nike General Manager for N7 Sam McCracken to over 200 students during a
motivational presentation at the Johnny Arlee/Victor Charlo Theatre
McCracken spoke to students from Salish Kootenai
College, Two Eagle River School, Ronan High School and Kicking Horse
Job Corps on opportunities available at Nike. He expressed to the
students that some day someone would have to step in and take his place
and it would be through the actions they displayed that will get the
right person in future slot. He explained that actions not words would
be key in success of any venture the students take.
McCracken, an Assiniboine Sioux, who grew up on the Fort Peck
Reservation began his Nike career in 1997 as a warehouse worker. Prior
to Nike, McCracken coached for 20 years. Not long after his warehouse
position, McCracken was asked by Nike's human resource director to
revitalize the organization's Native American Employee Network, which
is one of Nike's diversity programs.
He shared with the students that he was raised by a single
mother and explained how hard she worked for him to be successful. He
said his grandparents were also a big motivation in life.
Horse Job Corps Stars Coordinator Dawna Jo Calf Looking, coordinated
McCracken’s presentation back to the Flathead Reservation. Her purpose
was not only to motivate the Kicking Horse Job Corps student population
but, to open up for local youth, “to show them (youth) that they can do
it too, to motivate them. The best motivation for Native youth is in
sports,” Calf Looking said.
Kicking Horse Job Corps student,
Joseph Jory said the presentation was motivational and interesting, “It
makes you think how one person with one voice can make a difference.”
was a keynote guests who spoke on diversity and social responsibility
at the tribal PIR (Pupil Instruction Related) day this past fall on
September 18 and made such an impact on locals he was ushered by
through coordination from Kicking Horse Job Corps.
McCracken’s recent trip was supported generously through Nike, KwaTaqNuk Resort and Kicking Horse Job Corps.
was key in helping Nike build relationships between 250 tribes,
including 188 schools enrolled in the Office of Indian Education
programs that eventually lead him into general manager of Nikes' Native
American Business in 2000.
McCracken introduced Nike’s N7 philosophy to the students,
“Your footprint is inevitable. Your responsibility lies in how it
affects future generations.” N7’s goal is to help Native American and
aboriginal youth recognize their proud history and build on it for a
The video “Everybody Leaves a Footprint” was featured during
the speaking engagement that introduced the philosophy and N7 shoe that
was developed and tested to fit and address the specific fit and width
requirements for the Native American foot. Profits from the Nike Air
Native N7 will support programs on Native American lands to promote an
active and healthy lifestyle.
McCracken told the students his aunt called Nike one day and
asked if he could ask someone there if they would be willing to hook up
with them (diabetes patients) in Fort Peck diabetes program to donate
shoes. This was the beginning of the launch of Nike Air N7 shoe.
McCracken said Nike N7 is a holistic program and continuing to
develop and design N7 shoes to add a deeper appeal to a younger Native
population, “that is a little more sexier,” he said.
said that Nike was inspired by Native American wisdom of the Seven
Generations that expresses in every consideration we must consider the
impact our decisions have on the seventh generation.
According to the Nikebiz web site, the N7 Fund provides grants
and product donations to community organizations committed to helping
Native American and aboriginal youth unleash their potential through
sport. The first grant cycle for the fund was completed in the Spring
of 2009, with three $25,000 grants awarded to the Native American
Basketball Invitation Foundation, the Notah Begay III Foundation for
its Youth Soccer Program and Yellow Bird Inc. for the Fort Robinson
Outbreak Spiritual Run. Aboriginal community organizations are now able
to apply for product and cash grants from the Nike N7 Fund.
Ronan seventh grader, Kollin Wroblewski said after hearing McCracken’s talk that he would like to help design N7 shoes.
For more information on internships visit www.nikebiz.com.