Home Science & Technology Native American Scientists and Engineers–Native American Heritage Month in Science Class

Native American Scientists and Engineers–Native American Heritage Month in Science Class

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Celebrate National Native American Heritage Month by learning more about some of the many Native American scientists and engineers who have made important contributions to science history.

Learn More about these Native American Scientists and Engineers

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, we highlight Native American scientists and engineers who made (and are making) important contributions to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The list below is only a sampling of inspiring scientists through history and working in STEM fields today.

To encourage your students to learn more about these scientists and to explore related science projects and careers for scientists they find interesting, for each scientist, we have included a short biographical summary, links to 1-2 hands-on science projects related to the scientist’s area of study, links to relevant science career profiles, and a link to a biography.

Note: Educators can use this career worksheet to guide student exploration and reflection about STEM careers.

  1. Scientist: Bertha Parker,

    2. Bertha “Birdie” Parker Cody, Archaeologist

    Bertha Parker Cody (Abenaki and Seneca) was part of an archaeological expedition at Gypsum Cave (Las Vegas, NV), where she discovered the skull of a Nothrotherium shastense, an extinct species of giant ground sloth. This discovery, where human artifacts were also being recovered, helped further date the appearance of humans in North America. Parker is associated with other archaeological sites, too, like the Scorpion Hill Pueblo site and the Corn Creek site.
    (Biography )

    Interested in anthropology? Learn more with science projects like:
    Fantastic Fossilization! Discover the Conditions For Creating the Best Cast Fossils

    Learn more about related careers:
    Anthropologist

  2. Scientist: Ella Cara Deloria

    3. Ella Cara Deloria (Aŋpétu Wašté Wiŋ, Beautiful Day Woman), Anthropologist

    Ella Cara Deloria (Yankton Dakota) was an anthropologist, ethnographer, linguist, and writer. Deloria worked to preserve Native American history by recording oral history. Working with anthropologists like Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict, Deloria helped with Sioux linguistics and the translation of Native American languages and materials.
    (Biography)

    Interested in ethnography and linguistics? Learn more with science projects like:
    The Bouba-Kiki Effect

    Learn more about related careers:
    Anthropologist


  3. Scientist: Jerry C Elliott
  4. Scientist: John Herrington
  5. Scientist: Robin Wall Kimmerer
  6. Scientist: Mary G. Ross

    7. Mary Golda Ross, Aerospace Engineer

    Mary Golda Ross (Cherokee Nation) was an engineer who worked at Lockheed Martin on the design of planes and spacecraft, including the P-38 Lightning fighter plane and the Agena rocket, which helped pave the way for NASA’s Apollo mission. Ross was an original member of Lockheed’s top-secret Skunk Works team.
    (Biography)

    Interested in aerospace engineering? Learn more with science projects like:
    Why Winglets? and
    Stealthy Shapes: How to Make an Aircraft Invisible to Radar

    Learn more about related careers:
    Aerospace Engineer

  7. Scientist: Susan La Flesche Picotte
  8. Scientist: Aaron Yazzie

STEM Career Worksheet

To encourage students to learn more about these scientists and to explore related careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, use our free STEM Career Worksheet along with this post.

If you use the “9 Inspiring Native American Scientists and Engineers to Know!” post and career worksheet with students, we would love to hear your feedback. Email us at scibuddy@sciencebuddies.org with your comments or story.

Diversity in STEM

To help students see themselves with a future in STEM and to broaden understanding of science history, it is important for students to learn about a diverse range of scientists and engineers. This includes celebrating the stories of

women,
African American,
Asian American Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander,
Hispanic, and
Native American scientists and engineers,
scientists with disabilities,

and other scientists from around the world.

Note: Individual scientist photos used in this post are in the public domain with exception of:

Bertha Cody (Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 90-105, Science Service Records, Image No. SIA2009-0779

Jerry C. Elliott—High Eagle (NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given)

Robin Wall Kimmerer (SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry)

Bertha Parker (Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 90-105, Science Service Records, Image No. SIA2009-0779)

Mary G. Ross (Wikipedia, fair use)

Aaron Yazzie (Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0)

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