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Honoring Native American Heritage Month with Pinterest’s David Murphy

a woman in a blue dress

By: David Murphy, PIndigenous Co-President and Senior Program Manager, Creator Support, Hunka Oglala Lakota, Choctaw and Cherokee


November marks the start of Native American Heritage Month in the United States. PIndigenous, Pinterest’s Community for Indigenous employees, contractors, and allies, has planned global activations and events to celebrate the month, while educating Pinployees about the Indigenous experience. We sat down with David Murphy, PIndigenous’ Co-President and Creator Support Senior Program Manager, to talk more about the month, its theme, and what he’s doing to mark the moment.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, David. Let’s start by talking about the month’s theme: We are Still Here. What does this mean? How was it conceptualized?

We are Still Here is a reminder that Indigenous people are an active, influential and critical part of our global community. Many folks are raised with the idea that Native Americans were here when the continent was discovered, then Thanksgiving happened, followed by the Trail of Tears and many wars that ultimately caused Native people to “disappear.” The theme of “We are Still Here” combats that notion and encapsulates the idea that Indigenous people are present and contributing to modern day society in all forms. We are in tech, we are lawyers, we are doctors, and we are everything in between. People sometimes assume that we are gone because we don’t look the way we are presented in movies and don’t act the way that people are conditioned to think that we should act.

We’re so grateful that you’ve landed at Pinterest. What made you decide to join the company?

I credit landing my role here at Pinterest to my relationships with other Indigenous professionals in the industry. Indigenous folks are a tight knit community, and I was able to lean on my connections to navigate my job search. I was starting to explore new positions and contacted a friend of mine who was an executive at a local startup. He knew Jordan Skye Paul, PIndigenous Co-President and Head of Global Outsourcing, from some Native American community work they’d done together in the Bay Area. She told me about an opening in her org, and we chatted at length about PIndigenous, Pinterest’s community for Indigenous Pinployees, contractors and allies. I was sold on the job from the start because of this Community. In fact, I’d received a competitive job offer from another company, but chose to join Pinterest because of Jordan, PIndigenous, and Pinterest’s culture as a whole. Having a community at work was so important to me, and it was clear even from the outside that PIndigenous was vibrant, welcoming and dedicated.

PIndigenous has planned a month jam-packed with Pinployee activations and special guests. Can you tell us about some of the events?

Yes, throughout November we’re informing Pinployees about the Indigenous experience and celebrating along the way with events such as:

Papel Picado Crafting Event: PIndigenous + Todos Pincluidos (our Community for Latiné employees, contractors, and allies), are honoring Dia De Los Muertos with crafting and conversation.

Ghost Stories from the Rez: Three guest speakers will join us to chat about supernatural experiences from their communities and share their Indigenous wisdom.

Inspiration Series with Wes Studi: Wes Studi is a Cherokee actor and film producer, who appeared in Academy Award-winning films Dances with Wolves and The Last of the Mohicans. He is also a U.S. Army veteran who served in the Vietnam war. I will be co-moderating the conversation with Vets@ (Pinterest’s Community for Veterans) Co-President LeJon Butler, in representation of both Native American Heritage Month and Veteran’s Day in the U.S.

Respect our Elders: Stories, words of wisdom and good medicine: Spending time with Elders is a known requirement when growing up Native. Your parents would make sure that you spent time at Grandma’s house to ensure you knew where you came from and who you are. We’ll be honoring that tradition with a good dose of knowledge and learnings from our panel of Elders across different tribes.

In addition to internal events, we’re activating in product as well. On Pinterest, we are sharing content and spotlighting creators that show the diversity of Native people. I invite you to follow along all month to see features in Today’s Inspiration, in our We are Still Here board featuring Indigenous Pinployees, and on Follow Fridays, where we’re encouraging Pinners to follow Native creators like Shayla Stonechild,, Kai Potts and Indigenous Goddess Gang. Pinployees will also be able to donate to a “PIndigenous Fund” supporting four non-profits: Vision Maker Media, Intertribal Friendship House, Native American Rights Fund, and Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project. Pinterest will match employee donations 2:1 all month.

On a personal level, as an Indigenous professional, what does this month mean to you?

To me, this is a time to stop and reflect on all that is to be celebrated and recognized about the American Indian community. As Native people our traditions have been passed down from generation to generation through our culture bearers, our relatives, and our ancestors who help us stay rooted in where we come from and where we are going. We have endured an incredible journey over the many generations before us, yet today we survive. We honor that journey before us and we give our good medicine through song, prayer, storytelling and generally being active and contributing members of this land and of society. We acknowledge that Native communities are still present and powerful today. It is exceptionally important to our community that we recognize our past, we learn from it, we share it with others and we progress as a people, especially in light of the traumatic experiences we have overcome.

How do you stay connected to your culture?

I have Indigenous, Pacific Islander and European bloodlines. Throughout my life, I’ve spent a lot of time in and around Wounded Knee, on the Pine Ridge Reservation in Southwestern South Dakota, where my family still resides on a horse ranch. I lived there and have been spending time there since I was 2 years old, and each year, I spend almost all of my time off visiting home. The time I spent living on the Rez equipped me with immense perspective to bring to my life in the Bay Area. I consider myself in a self-imposed exile of sorts, here as an ambassador for the folks on the Rez, on a mission to support other Indigenous people, and to educate the broader population on our way of life. Chief Crow Dog posed a question to me before he passed; he said, “Toska, I could live in a mansion, but what good would that do the people?” and I try to keep that in mind as I live each day in a good way.

What are some ways your culture influences your work life? Do you bring your culture to work?

The traditional Indigenous way of life definitely influences my work and day-to-day life in the Bay Area. As a Senior Manager for Creator Support, I help build our Creator Rewards program to support monetization efforts for our Creator pipeline. Part of being Indigenous in this role is bringing the Native perspective to a place that wouldn’t have it otherwise. The Indigenous population at Pinterest is small, and Jordan and I, among a few others, are the connections to the Native way of life. Folks often seek our point of view, even when the work isn’t related to our day jobs, because there aren’t many people at the company who can understand and communicate it. Pinterest is constantly working to make our product as inclusive as possible, and to empower all of our Pinners to create a life they love. Being a sounding board and lending the Indigenous perspective to support Native Pinners and Creators is a huge part of that.

It is very challenging to include the Indigenous perspective in corporate settings because many Indigenous people are either at modern companies removed from the culture, or living on Reservations, not able to contribute their points of view in the corporate world. My years on the Reservation have given me the perspective and experience to speak to the culture, while still, of course, living and working at a tech company.

My work for the Indigenous community at Pinterest is not limited to PIndigenous, but PIndigenous is the reason why I chose to work at Pinterest. I was drawn to the fact that there exists a community of people who I want to be with– they make it fun to go to work every day.

It sounds like recruiting Indigenous talent is a big priority for you personally. How is PIndigenous showing up in the community? What are some ways you’re helping out?

Much of our community support is geared toward recruiting Indigenous folks and equipping them with the information they need to enter the tech industry. We recently began a partnership with UC Berkeley, where we’ll be providing resume and interview coaching to Indigenous students. We’re working to bridge the gap between their home culture and the corporate world, minimize intimidation, and give access to resources who can help folks optimize their already developed skill sets and grow their careers.

As we head into the holiday season, PIndigenous is also donating turkeys for this year’s harvest feast at the Intertribal Friendship House in Oakland. We’re constantly working with partners in the community to see where and how we can help.

This post was written and edited from Ramaytush Ohlone land in San Francisco, CA and Munsee Lenape land in Hoboken, NJ.

To learn more about Native American History Month, visit Pinterest’s Daily Inspiration tab throughout November.

Interested in a career at Pinterest? We’re hiring globally! Click here to explore opportunities.

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