About Native American Caucus

The Native American Caucus consists of American Indian/Alaska Native, as well as non-Native, speech-language pathologists and audiologists who provide services to Native clients. All members are volunteers.  The caucus leaders, members and committees conduct videoconferencing meetings throughout the year.  The Caucus’ annual meeting occurs at the annual convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) to discuss interests and concerns related to our professions.

More information may be obtained by contacting Caucus Co-Chairs Aletha "Shine" Burnette at or Molly Rutledge at

Native American Caucus Goals

  1. To provide a forum where professionals:
    1. Can network and discuss major issues that relate to the delivery of speech. language, and hearing services to Native Americans with communication disorders.
    2. Can exchange information about the needs of Native American clients.
  2. To provide and share with others a base of knowledge that will help all professionals:
    1. Understand the cultural and linguistic needs of Native people with communication disorders.
    2. Become more aware, sensitive, and competent as they work with Native American populations.
    3. Increase the cultural and linguistic appropriateness of speech, language, and hearing services for all Native people.
  3. To encourage and support respectful and culturally sensitive research efforts that provide data on the assessment and clinical management of communication disorders in Native American populations with the understanding that such data:
    1. Is collected following appropriate tribal protocols (Le.. committee and other tribal approvals).
    2. Is used appropriately (i.e., not generalized to different Native American populations.)
  4. To support the expansion of opportunities for Native American professionals to serve as leaders and role models within the professions of speech-language pathology and audiology.
  5. To support the recruitment, training, and leadership development of personnel, especially those who are Native American, to serve Native Americans with communication disorders.
  6. To advocate for improved service delivery to Native Americans with communication disorders.

Action Plan

  1. Hold an annual national meeting during the ASHA convention. 
  2. Provide mentoring/counseling for students in training and those who are considering majoring in speech and hearing communication disorders.
  3. Provide professional support and mentoring for members.
  4. Provide a speakers bureau of professionals to discuss issues important to the caucus and serve as a contact for and referral source for agencies in need of in-servicing.
  5. Recognize and encourage achievements and accomplishments of members of the caucus.
  6. Maintain active relationships with ASHA's Office of Multicultural Affairs and other groups (i.e., caucuses) engaged in efforts affecting culturally and linguistically diverse populations.
  7. Recruit Native Americans into the professions, speech-language pathology and audiology, and into ASHA through personal relationships and presentations directed to junior high, high school. and university students, and other potential candidates (i.e., educators, social and health care workers).
  8. Increase the membership of the caucus.

Speech-language pathologists and audiologists who serve Native American populations are encouraged to take leadership positions within ASHA.  Please contact ASHA to volunteer for ASHA committees and leadership positions at ASHA's Become a Volunteer.