Native American Heritage Month
November is Native American Heritage Month! On November 3, 1990 President George H. W. Bush declared the month of November Native American History Month. This month is dedicated to educating the general public about Native American culture, raising public awareness about the unique challenges Native American people have faced (both historically and in the present), and how they work to overcome these challenges. November is a time to celebrate their rich and diverse culture, tradition, and history.
Native American Scientists
Native American scientists have had an important effect on technology over the years. From the farthest reaches of outer space to the tiniest pieces of computer hardware, Native Americans continue to influence research, science, and applied technologies that change our world for the better! To celebrate this important month we would like to honor some of the amazing men and women who have changed the world through science, technology, and innovation.
Mary G. Ross
Mary Golda Ross was born in Park Hill, Oklahoma in 1908. She was the great granddaughter of Cherokee Chief John Ross. As a child she lived with her grandparents in the Cherokee Nation capital of Tahlequah where she attended school.
Ross became known as the first female Native American engineer. She specialized in aerospace design, and is known for being one of the "first to reach the stars". Her aerospace designs helped interplanetary space travel, manned and unmanned Earth orbiting flights, and the studies of orbiting satellites. Mary G. Ross not only changed the way we view space and space travel, but she also changed the lives of others. After her retirement in 1973 she worked and recruited young women and Native American youth into engineering careers. She also supported the American Indians in the Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and the Counsel of Energy Resource Tribes.
Laurie Alvord was born in Crownpoint, New Mexico; located in the Navajo Reservation, in 1958. Alvord is a member of the Tsinnajinne' (Black Streaked Wood) clan (Ponderosa Pine), and of the Ashihii' Dine' (Salt People) clan. After her graduation from Dartmouth College, where she majored in psychology and minored in Native American studies, Alvord attended Stanford University Medical School where she earned her M.D. in 1985.
She then became the first board-certified female Diné surgeon. Alvord returned to her home in New Mexico on the Navajo reservation where she practices surgery with the in Indian Health Service. You can read about Alvord’s experiences as a surgeon while incorporating her love for her heritage in her autobiography The Scalpel and the Silver Bear.
Wallace Hampton Tucker
Dr. Wallace Hampden Tucker was born in McAlester, Oklahoma and is a part of the Choctaw tribe. Dr. Tucker attended the University of Oklahoma where he earned his bachelors degree in mathematics, his masters in physics, and then went on to earn his PhD in physics at the University of California in 1966. Tucker is a multi-talented scientist who specializes in astrophysics, is an award winning playwright, and an active environmentalist.
Hampden specializes in high energy astrophysics and is the spokesperson for the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-Ray Center. Dr. Tucker keeps in touch with his heritage by writing plays that reflect his ancestry and the struggles of mixed and full-blood Native Americans. Dr. Tucker is an active environmentalist, and he founded two non-profit organizations called the Fallbrook Land Conservancy and the San Diego Land Conservation Coalition.
Andrea Delgado-Olson is a member of the Ione Band of Miwok Indians in Northern Sierra Foothills of California.
Andrea is a program manager for Systers and GHC Communities at AnitaB.org, which is a non-profit organization aiming to recruit, retain, and advance women in technology. To help keep her connection with her Native American heritage as well as her love for technology, Andrea founded Native American Woman in Computing. Founding her organization helped Andrea connect with other Native women for support and mentorship in a field that she loves. She also works on multiple projects to preserve the Native American heritage and help raise awareness about Native American history and culture.