Oct. 10, 2023  -  Tulsa City-County Library’s American Indian Resource Center will induct John Herrington, Chickasaw, into the Circle of honor during a special presentation March 2, 2024, 10:30 a.m. at Central Library, 400 Civic Center. 

   The Circle of Honor award presentation begins a monthlong celebration honoring the achievements and accomplishments of Native Americans. Programs are planned for all ages throughout March featuring local presenters. All library events are free and open to the public.

   Born in Wetumka, Oklahoma, Herrington was the first citizen of a federally recognized tribe to travel to space. Selected by NASA in 1996, he was assigned to the Flight Support Branch of the Astronaut Office where he served as a member of the Astronaut Support Personnel team responsible for Shuttle launch preparations and post-landing operations.

   In 2002, he spent nearly two weeks in space as a member of STS-113 Endeavour, the sixteenth Shuttle mission to visit the International Space Station. During this mission, Herrington performed three EVA’s (extravehicular activity) totaling 19 hours and 55 minutes outside the spacecraft in orbit.

   Herrington’s space walks did not come without a challenge. He was suspended after his freshman year of college because of a low GPA. More interested in rock climbing, he used those skills and joined a survey crew in Colorado. Scaling peaks in the Rocky Mountains ignited a new passion for learning and on the advice of the lead project engineer, he returned to college.

   After receiving a degree in applied mathematics from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, a retired Navy captain encouraged him to apply to the Navy, where he enjoyed a 22-year career as a Naval Aviator, test pilot and astronaut. In 1995, he earned a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.

   Following his successful career, Herrington set out on a coast-to-coast bike ride to motivate young adults to pursue math and science professions. He used the 4,000-mile journey to demonstrate real world uses for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This experience led him to return to school and earn his doctorate in Education.

   The Circle of Honor is sponsored by the Maxine and Jack Zarrow Family Foundation, TCCL’s American Indian Resource Center, and the Tulsa Library Trust, with additional support by Draughon Trust, Southwest Trading Company, and Visions and Voices. The award consists of a $5,000 honorarium and a medallion featuring the American Indian Resource Center’s turtle logo. 

   The Circle of Honor alternates annually with the American Indian Festival of Words Author Award.  Past Circle of Honor recipients include Charles Chibitty, Wilma Mankiller, Neal McCaleb, Billy Mills, Kirke Kickingbird, Ruthe Blalock Jones, Sam Proctor, Dr. Henrietta Mann, Walter Echo-Hawk and Archie Mason. 

   The American Indian Resource Center provides educational and informational resources, activities and services honoring American Indian heritage, arts and achievements. The center also provides access to more than 4,000 books and media for adults and children by and about American Indians, including historical and rare materials, new releases, videos and music CDs.   

The goal of this collection is to promote, revitalize and preserve our country’s native languages. 

   For more information on the Circle of Honor ceremony, call the AskUs Hotline, 918-549-7323, or visit the AIRC website, https://www.tulsalibrary.org/research/american-indian-resource-center

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