Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

March 18, 2010

Nike representative works to inspire Native youth

By Lailani Upham

Students gather around Nike General Manager for N7 Sam McCracken after presentation on N7 opportunities last week. (Lailani Upham photo)
Students 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 last week.

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.

Kicking 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.”

McCracken 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.

McCracken 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 triumphant future.

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.

McCracken 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.

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