Native American and Indigenous Persons' Work Issues

Edited by:
Dianna L. Stone, Universities of New Mexico, Albany, and Virginia Tech
Eugene F. Stone-Romero, University of New Mexico
Kimberly M. Lukaszewski, Wright State University

A volume in the series: Research in Human Resource Management. Editor(s): Dianna L. Stone, Universities of New Mexico, Albany, and Virginia Tech. James H. Dulebohn, Michigan State University. Brian Murray, University of Dallas. Kimberly M. Lukaszewski, Wright State University.

Call for Papers

The U. S. Bureau of the Census (2022) estimates that there are 6.79 million Native Americans in the U. S. which is 2.09% of the population. Further, there are about 574 federally recognized Native American tribes in the nation. In addition, the World Bank reports that there are 476 million Indigenous People worldwide, and they make up about 6 percent of the global population. Many of these individuals live in poverty, have a low life expectances, and have difficulty gaining access to jobs (World Bank, 2022). There are several reasons for these problems including: unfair discrimination or prejudice, the fact that reservations are located in remote locations with few employers, many of these individuals have lower levels of education than their counterparts, and there are differences in cultural values that create challenges for them in organizations (e.g., role ambiguity, role conflict, exclusion.)

Native Americans and indigenous persons also experience numerous problems gaining and maintaining employment. For instance, surveys have shown that 54 percent of Native people in the U. S. report that they have experienced unfair discrimination in the employment process (e.g., biases in hiring and pay levels) (National Public Radio, 2017.) Further, they have a higher unemployment rates in the U. S. than others (e.g., 7.9% for Natives compared to 3.9% for others, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021.) In addition, they are typically assigned to low level dead end jobs with few opportunities for advancement, and are underrepresented in high skilled high status positions (e.g., managerial or professional positions). They are also more likely to work in physically dangerous jobs (e.g., building sky scrapers, gas and oil production jobs) (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019). Thus, we believe that research is needed to determine the reasons for these employment problems, and identify strategies for overcoming them.

Despite the employment problems experienced by Native people, relatively little research has focused on their work issues (Stone et al., 2022). There has been considerable research in Organizational Behavior (OB) and Human Resource Management (HR) on the work-related challenges (e.g., unfair discrimination experienced by African Americans [e.g., Dipboye & Colella, 2005], Hispanic-Americans [Guerrero & Posthuma, 2014], and Asian Americans [Rogers et al., in press.] However, most of this research has focused on African Americans because they were brought to the U. S. and other nations by the transatlantic slave trade, and experienced the unspeakable bonds of slavery (Bell, 2013). Other research has examined the degree to which women, older workers, people with disabilities, and others (e.g., Cheng & Thatchenkery, 1997; Stone et al., in press) experience unfair discrimination or are unfairly treated in organizations. However, relatively little research in OB or HR has considered the biases or unfair treatment of Native people in organizations (Findling et al., 2019; Muller, 1998). Further, we are not aware of any published academic books on Native American work issues.

Even though there has been relatively little research on Native American work issues, there has been some recent research on their business strategies, entrepreneurial behaviors, and leadership styles (Black & Kennedy, 2019; Gladstone, 2012; 2021; Gladstone & Pepion, 2017, Kennedy et al., 2017; Stewart et al., 2017). However, we are not aware of research that has directly addressed the (a) impact of Native American cultural values on their behavior in organizations, (b) effectiveness of current human resource practices with Native Americans, or (c) factors that influence the attraction, motivation, and retention of these individuals. Further, there has been a paucity of research on Native people in the social sciences as a whole (e.g., Sociology, Political Science, Psychology), and some researchers have noted that they have been one of the most neglected groups in social research (Peterson & Duncan, 2001) One reason for this is that they make up a small subset of the population, and another is that few researchers have access to Native people because they live in very remote locations (e.g., reservations are in South Dakota, New Mexico, Alaska, Washington). It is unfortunate that there is limited research on the work experiences of Natives because studies have shown that they have many talents and skills that can add value to organizations, and they are often excluded from organizations which has a negative effect on their emotional, psychological, and physical health-related outcomes (e.g., depression, alcohol and drug use, suicide) (Findling et al., 2019.)

Purpose of the Special Issue. Given the challenges faced by Native Americans in work organizations and the lack of research on the issues, the primary purposes of this special issue are (a) foster micro-level research on Native American work issues, (b) consider how existing theories of OB and HR might be used to explain the inclusion and/or exclusion of Natives in organizations, and (c) describe the strategies that might be used to facilitate the employment of Native people, and ensure that they have the opportunities to display their talents and skills or enjoy a satisfying work life.


a. Native American cultural values and their impact on behavior in organizations

b. How should human resource management (HR) practices be modified to correspond to Native American cultural values (e.g., merit pay systems.)

c. What are the challenges faced by Native Americans in the world of work (e.g., exclusion, discrimination, unfair treatment, bullying, role ambiguity)

d. What are the factors that affect the job satisfaction of Native Americans

e. How do we establish a supportive work environment and increase the inclusion of Native Americans in organizations

f. What unique talents and skills do Native Americans bring to the workforce (e.g., teamwork, collectivism, different leadership styles, emphasis on gender equality.)

g. How do Native American leadership styles differ from the leadership styles of the dominant group in a nation

h. What are some unique HR practices that will help organizations meet the needs of Native Americans (e.g., work family policies, diversity policies, affinity groups, flextime, telework, time off for feast days.)

i. How might Native Americans change the nature of organization practices and policies (e.g., decreased competition, increased cooperation and teamwork, less emphasis on monetary gains.)

Please note that these are only a few of the suggested topics, and there are many more that can be considered.

Research in HRM is a peer reviewed research series so all papers will be reviewed by the editors and two subject matter experts. Please see the website at All final papers must be no more than 50 pages in length, and they must conform to APA guidelines.

Please send a short proposal (1-3 pages) to Dianna Stone at by February 1, 2023. Also feel free to contact her if you have questions. Final Papers Due: November 1, 2023.