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November 19, 2003

Marta R. Metelko
Headquarters, Washington

John Ira Petty
Johnson Space Center, Houston

Release: #H03-372

Astronaut Delivers Keynote Address at National Conference

NASA astronaut John B. Herrington, a member of the Chickasaw nation and the first Native American to walk in space, will deliver the keynote address at the American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES) 25th National Conference.

The conference is at the Albuquerque, N.M. Convention Center Nov. 20-22. Herrington's spacewalk was in November 2002, from the Space Shuttle Endeavour during a mission to the International Space Station.

The society, with approximately 15,000 members, is a national, non-profit group that seeks to link science and technology with Native American values. It also fosters opportunities for Native Americans to study science, engineering and technology through educational programs. One of the society's founders, Jerry Elliott, an Osage-Cherokee, is a NASA engineer at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston.

"It is important that we develop sufficient numbers of technically and scientifically trained American Indians who can guide our people in the future. What can be more exciting and natural than to carry on the knowledge of medicines, engineering and science that our ancestors knew but didn't label as such," Elliot said.

Elliott will also speak at the convention. He will receive the distinction of being named a Sequoyah Fellow. It is an honor named for the Cherokee who developed an alphabet and was instrumental in making his nation literate in the 1820's. Elliott's fellowship is bestowed for "contributions having long-term positive impact for the American Indian community."

"The education goals of AISES and NASA's efforts to encourage youth to study technical subjects are complementary," said JSC Director Jefferson Howell Jr. "Part of NASA's mission is to inspire the next generation of explorers, and we strive to increase the diversity of our workforce," he said.

The NASA exhibit at the AISES Conference Career Fair, coordinated by the Offices of Equal Opportunity Programs, Education, and the Dryden Flight Research Center, is one of the agency's Corporate Recruitment Initiatives. NASA is determined to attract and maintain a workforce capturing the full potential of U.S. diversity. NASA is also addressing the national need for a new generation skilled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

For more information about NASA on the Internet, visit:

For Information about NASA's Office of Equal Opportunity Programs on the Internet, visit:

For information about NASA Education programs on the Internet, visit:

For information about NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on the Internet, visit:

For information about the AISES conference on the Internet, visit:


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