John Herrington, Astronaut
John Herrington of the Chickasaw Nation was the very first Native American in space. He earned this honor on the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s STS-113 mission, where he carried his Chickasaw Nation flag and brought along his traditional flute.
A graduate of the University of Colorado, Herrington served as commander of the NEEMO 6 mission in 2004, in which he and his crew spent 10 days working underwater in an effort to simulate outer space conditions. He retired from the Navy and NASA in 2005 and has since dedicated his life to serving his community by promoting STEM for Native American youth.
Herrington’s efforts have earned him countless achievements, such as authoring a children’s book, riding 4,300 miles solo from Washington to Cape Canaveral’s Kennedy Space Center, being awarded the Legion of Merit, NASA Spaceflight Medal, and Wiley Post Spirit Award, and boasting inductions into both the Chickasaw and Oklahoma Halls of Fame.
Citations and further reading: https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/astronaut-john-herrington-carried-a-piece-of-native-american-history-to-space & https://oklahomahof.com/member-archives/h/herrington-john-b-2019