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Embracing Native Identity: A Story of Connection

RingCentral’s Mick Dyer discovers his Native American community and identity

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3 min read

Highlights:

  • November is Native American Heritage Month (NAHM)
  • RingCentral Senior Technical Account Manager Mick Dyer discusses how family attitudes and cultural shifts shaped his Cherokee identity

Celebrating Native Americans 

Native American Heritage Month celebrates the cultures, traditions, and histories of the Native people of the Americas. We sat down with Indigenous People Employee Resource Group (IPERG) member and Senior Manager, Technical Account Manager, Mick Dyer to learn about his journey of discovery and how he came to embrace his Cherokee identity.

Embracing Native identity

Mick’s story was shaped by the eras his grandparents and parents grew up in. It was a time when being Native in America was looked down upon. Sadly, this meant their Cherokee identity, language, and cultural traditions were not embraced or passed down through their family. For Mick, the process of exploring his Cherokee identity began after he was well into adulthood, “It’s sad to think that it was disgraceful to them and that was not that long ago—1989—that thought was still there.”

Working on a reservation

Mick’s understanding of Native American culture shifted early on in his career. “I was a Clinical Pharmacist for Indian Health Services assigned to the Iowa Tribe in Oklahoma.” Working in healthcare on a reservation, Mick could see firsthand some of the challenges faced by the community there. He helped organize a clinic for diabetes treatment and brought in a physician. This strengthened his connection with Oklahoma’s Native American community, sparked his interest in learning more about his family’s history, and inspired him to make his identity official.

The registration process

To obtain Cherokee Nation tribal citizenship, an application must be submitted along with documents directly connecting a person to an enrolled lineal ancestor listed on the “Dawes Roll” Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedman of the Five Civilized Tribes. Officials work off of documentation, including birth records to verify family connections. Because Mick had other relatives who were already enrolled, the process was efficient and the line was proven.

Officially joining the Cherokee Nation 

While there are some tangible benefits to being part of the roll, like paid college tuition costs, by the time he enrolled he was too late to take advantage of some of them. Despite that, Mick still wanted to become officially documented as a member of the Cherokee Nation. “I think it was important for my identity to be recognized rather than hidden because it was never talked about in a positive light.” Now he embraces his Cherokee identity as a source of pride and is on a personal journey to learn more about his ancestral roots.

Finding a supportive community

Since joining RingCentral’s Indigenous People ERG Mick has found support and education. “Having a group to talk about whatever I want has been awesome. Also, people post stories and articles about their tribes and I get to learn about our similarities and differences.” Supporting Indigenous programs, activities, and businesses and celebrating Indigenous people are the goals of the IPERG. Helping educate RingCentral employees on the history, contributions, and challenges this community faces is another important facet. 

We feel that learning about the history of Indigenous Communities begins honest conversations and continues an open dialogue regarding the Native American Community’s social, political, and economic contributions. They play an important role in our past and current society.

—Renee Mann, IPERG Leader and Senior Manager of Partner Enablement at RingCentral

Upcoming events for connection and inspiration

This month, RingCentral’s Indigenous People Employee Resource Group is hosting activities and events to help connect, inspire, and educate. All RingCentral employees are encouraged to participate.

  • Two-Spirit Webinar with Carrie House → IPERG and Rainbow Alliance ERG will collaborate for a webinar led by Carrie House, a Two-Spirit filmmaker from the Navajo Nation. Here we will discuss the Two-Spirited identity among Native people.
  • A Conversation with Alyssa London → The Indigenous and WISE ERGs will collaborate for a conversation with Alyssa London, Miss Alaska USA in 2017 and a proud Tlingit Tribe member.
  • Storytelling with the Red Feather Woman → The Red Feather Woman will visit the Denver Office and tell traditional stories accompanied by songs, guitar playing, and a social round dance. 
  • Trivia in the Indigenous glip group and Indigenous foods in-office. 

Originally published Nov 16, 2023

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