October 05, 2007

Nike goes beyond the surface

Big feet could lead to big changeNike's efforts represent those that go beyond surface changes to actually norming a product within a particular community.

Other shoe companies (as well as Nike) have had various versions of a Native American shoe that did not go beyond adding beads, feather or coastal detailing, or Native-themed embroidery designs or trim.

The attempt to go beyond the surface into actual characteristic differences, as well as address long-standing health issues, makes Nike a true innovator.

The sad fact of the matter, is that most products and programs merely skim the surface when dealing with Native issues.

Like feather detailing, these products and programs provide little in the way of substance for Native people.

For example, attempts to recruit Native Americans for various programs or jobs most often merely put Native faces on brochures and fliers rather than addressing possible underlying value conflicts or levels-of-comfort issues. These attempts are often unsuccessful at reaching Indians but tend to blame Indians for not responding instead of carefully critiquing the lack of depth.

The Air Native N7 represents more than just a shoe. Nike also is willing to do something very few companies and programs are willing to do: Share the wealth and exhibit corporate consciousness.

Nike says the company anticipates selling at least 10,000 pairs and raising $200,000 for tribal health programs.

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