National Native American Heritage Month Employee Reflections: Justin Jacobs

Justin JacobsJustin Jacobs is an Acting Group Supervisor with the Washington Field Division. He’s been with ATF for six years and previously worked with the Greensboro Police Department as a police officer and as a special agent for the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. His desire to be a federal agent was affirmed after being recruited to ATF by another agent while working a joint investigation.

Showing Pride in His Heritage

Jacobs is a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, the largest tribe east of the Mississippi River. He is grateful for the work done by his ancestors to pave the way for where he is today. He recently attended an exhibit on his tribe’s history and was very proud of all that his people were able to accomplish during times of heavy adversity. It is one of the many reasons he’s proud to be Lumbee and makes sure his children also carry that native pride.

He is a family man and credits his wife and children as the reason he gets up every day. He relishes the chance to include them in events involving his heritage. One of Jacobs’ favorite cultural traditions is powwows. He loves to watch the dancing, see the different types of regalia, and listen to the beat of the drums. It’s an opportunity to admire traditions and share the moment with other people in the tribe. He fondly remembers meeting another member of The Lumbee Tribe and although they were almost 20 years apart, they both swelled with the same pride. “That is a feeling that you just can’t describe,” Jacobs exclaimed.

Recruiting Native Americans to Law Enforcement

Jacobs credits his time in federal law enforcement for the many opportunities he’s had to travel and see places he only previously dreamed about. Native Americans are underrepresented in law enforcement, and he believes it’s partly due to them not knowing all the opportunities available to them. That’s why it’s important that they are made aware of the vast world outside of tribal areas. He knows first-hand how difficult it can be for a non-native to build rapport with someone in the Native American community.  An increased effort to recruit Native Americans can help close this divide.

Earlier this year, Jacobs attended the Society of American Indian Government Employees conference. He’s since been passionate about ways to effectively bring together and recruit within communities of the 574 federally recognized tribes. The goal is to focus resources into these communities to help raise awareness and engage the younger generations to develop an interest in law enforcement and other critical areas.

National Native American Heritage Month

When asked what National Native American Heritage Month meant to him, Jacobs described it in one word, “Pride.” He’s proud of his heritage and proud to be Lumbee. He thinks it’s important to remember where you come from, while at the same time, not allow negative events from the past define who you are today. It’s important to learn from those things and continue to grow and show your pride.

Last Reviewed November 8, 2023