Engaging the Original Seattleites

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Over two-thirds of Native Americans live in urban metropolitan areas, but they are often underrepresented through existing urban planning outreach methods and events. Cities must be planned with the needs of Native Americans in mind. If ignored,  cities will be a barrier to the continuation of Native American culture and enforce oppressive colonization culture. Currently, little public outreach is geared towards urban Native Americans. Common methods of conducting outreach are not culturally appropriate for Native American communities. Altering current outreach methods, such as town hall and open houses, to more culturally appropriate methods is one solution to effectively engaging urban Native Americans. I applied communication and event structure recommendations from public health researchers and narrative interview facilitators to urban planning outreach events by altering the way the event facilitator interacted and guided the conversations. To determine the effectiveness of the communication recommendations, I conducted follow up surveys with participants. Participants indicated that the test outreach events were comfortable environments to voice their opinions because they felt their opinions were heard and valued. Additionally, the demographics of those attending the event and group size were indicated as important factors in creating that comfortable environment.  Implementing these recommendations in future outreach events could lead to more engaged participation by urban Native American populations. More effective engagement will allow cities to better meet the needs of their Native American communities.