Nike N7: Nike’s Native American Division Continues its Work with Native Kids

By Hunter Rand

On November 24th the University of Nevada — Reno women’s basketball team ran out into the Lawlor Events Center in a preseason tournament game against the Sacramento State Hornets; instead of their traditional anthracite uniforms they had worn for every home game during the ‘17-’18 season, they took the court wearing turquoise Nike N7 jerseys.

The 2017 jersey composite shows the turquoise jerseys from participating women’s and men’s programs. Photo courtesy of the N7 Fund.

Out of 351 Division I basketball programs, with 349 programs fielding both a men’s and women’s team, only 10 programs are affiliated with the Nike N7 program, Nevada being one of them with both its men’s and women’s teams participating and fielding the unique turquoise jerseys.

Fans ask the question all the time, “what is N7?”

University of Nevada, Reno women’s basketball player Jade Redmon plays during the 2017 Nike N7 game against Sacramento State on November 24th, 2017. Photo courtesy Nevada Athletics.

Former Nevada women’s basketball player, WNBA draftee, and current Director of Player Development Tahnee Robinson explained that the Nike N7 Fund helps Native American children.

Nike N7 Ambassador Tahnee Robinson photographed as part of an ad campaign in 2011. Photo courtesy of the N7 Fund.

“Half the profits go back through the N7 Fund. Native Organizations apply for grants from the N7 Fund for sports equipment,” Robinson said.

More than a grant fund, N7 is a product line from Nike, with half of the profits being funneled into the N7 Fund. In 2000 Sam McCracken wanted to provide Nike products directly to Native communities, to promote health and disease prevention programs.

According to Nike, in 2007 they began their Native American division, which designed the first shoe in the N7 line. In 2009 they expanded, offering their new product line to the public.

Since 2009 the N7 Fund has provided almost 350 grants in amounts of either $15,000 or $20,000. These grants have gone to programs sponsored by John Hopkins University and the Boys & Girls Club. More than large organizations, grants have also been directly awarded to tribes and Native American sports organizations.

It’s called “N7” for the Native American wisdom of “Seven Generations;” it states, “we must consider the impact of our decisions on the seventh generation.”

The N7 line commonly uses the color turquoise, most notably in the N7 basketball jerseys that participating programs wear, as it is an important color to Native Americans. Some believe that turquoise holds special spiritual powers while other hold it as a symbol for good luck and good health. Nike has taken these things to heart when designing N7 products.

More than providing grants to Native American organizations N7 is about empowerment.

“I think with every kid, when they wear N7 they feel empowered and proud to be Native,” Robinson said. “I think it is something they can show off.”