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Nike Has Embraced the Native Market

In 2007 Nike introduced the Air Native N7. This is a shoe that not only targets the Native market but was designed for the Native person. The shoe's appearance has cultural elements built in. However, the shoe has more of a history than the aesthetic, its very design was for Native Americans.

The developmental history of the shoe starts with a Native American Nike employee named Sam McCracken. Sam started working at Nike in 1997 and has been influential in keeping Native issues in the company's awareness. He has led Nike to help Native American communities with fitness and athletic assistance during his time at the company. This has been in the form of program support, financial contributions, and apparel donations.

In 2003 Nike started working with the Comanche Tribal Diabetes program. The program was already working with the Air Monarch as a diabetic shoe for its patients. Soon after, Indian Health Service (IHS) became involved and signed a memorandum of understanding with Nike. At this point the project became a national project for all of Indian Country. Many factors are brought into play and finally the Air Native N7 was produced. One of the features of this shoe is that the it is wider than average, as it has been determined that Native foot needs the larger fit. It was also decided that the shoe is only distributed to Native Americans through tribal programs, clinics, and tribal schools. These entities are able to purchase this shoe at wholesale and keep the markup, if they choose to build a margin into the price.

Currently, Nike has a series of N7 shoes that are available for sale to the public on its website and in its factory stores. The styling of the shoes are more contemporary and include basketball and running shoes. Also, these shoes are designed for a standard fit and not just a Native fit. Proceeds from the sales of the shoes goes into a newly established N7 fund. This fund is designed to encourage Native Americans in athletics and to promote physical activity.