Background. California is home to the largest number of American Indians in the United States, including large numbers of residents who are from tribes outside of the state, in addition to Alaska Natives. In 2000 to 2001, the California Health Interview Survey randomly surveyed, by telephone, approximately 54,122 households throughout the state, focusing on public health and access to health care. Methods. American Indian and Alaska Native cultural competency training materials were developed for the data collection interviewers. Unique cultural and linguistic issues identified were (1) reservation dialect English, (2) the long pause, (3) slow speaking, (4) "walking on words," and (5) a brief review of the importance of collecting tribal heritage information. Conclusions. Since the successful implementation of the competency training, several researchers, practitioners, state agencies, and others have requested and implemented the training materials in their work. In this article, we review the training materials. We hope that these few tips will help others have successful experiences communicating respectfully with American Indian and Alaska Natives.