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News Release 05-204

Astronaut Says to Live Your Dreams in Observance of American-Indian Heritage Month

Member of Chickasaw Nation is the first Native American to walk in space

John Herrington is an aviator, astronaut and member of the Chickasaw Nation.

John Herrington is an aviator, astronaut and member of the Chickasaw Nation.

November 23, 2005

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Each November, the National Science Foundation (NSF) commemorates the many contributions American Indians and Alaska Natives make to science and engineering by inviting a distinguished guest speaker to address its workforce. On Nov. 14, 2005, U.S. Navy Capt. John Herrington, an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and the first American-Indian astronaut to serve with NASA, delivered his personal message: "Living Your Dreams."

He is now the chief test pilot for the XP Spaceplane under development by the company Rocketplane, Inc.

Herrington, who is also the first American Indian astronaut to walk in space, is well known among Indian educators as a role model for Indian children and youth. The audience included astronomy students from Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Va.

National American Indian Heritage Month honors the contributions and accomplishments of American Indians and Alaska Natives to our society and country. The Boy Scouts of America were the first to dedicate a day to the "First Americans." New York was the first state to declare the second Saturday in May as American Indian Day in 1916. Illinois endorsed it in 1919.

In 1990, the President approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 as "National American Indian Heritage Month." In this year's proclamation, the president stated, "One of the most important ways to ensure a successful future is through education."

NSF programs seek to increase the participation and advancement of diverse groups and institutions at different levels of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, education and research. The Tribal Colleges and Universities Program, for example, promotes sustainable improvements of undergraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics instruction and outreach programs, with an emphasis on expanding course and degree offerings, undergraduate research opportunities, and the use of information technologies at tribal colleges and universities, Alaskan Native-serving institutions and Native Hawaiian-serving institutions.


Program Contacts
Consuela Roberts, NSF, (703) 292-7325, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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