Long before there was western science, our ancestors were doing remarkable things in observing the world around us and making structures that captured the solar cycle. Chaco canyon is a great example of that.
They were very talented observers. Long before western science, western mathematics, came along, they were building these remarkably detailed structures. Our ancestors were doing it. Native people have been very talented engineers and scientists for millennia. They did it for survival. You have to be very observant to the world around you in order to survive.
On another side of that, talking about the southwest, about my tribe’s [mounds]—looking at the mounds structures, they’re oriented to the cardinal directions. These huge mounds, built by hand, align with the cardinal directions. How did they do that, measure things out and build it? It took a lot of expertise to do that. So those were remarkable engineers thousands of years ago. That’s directly related. So that’s near and dear to my heart.
I like to solve problems. I like to see how stuff works. I like challenge. My ancestors were able to rise to challenges that came their way. I’d like to say I’m doing the same thing.
— Astronaut John B. Herrington, first American Indian (Chickasaw) in space, when asked in this interview
”What can Indigenous perspectives bring to space exploration?” (via karonhiake