Panel Discussion with Dr. John Herrington: Indigenous & Anticolonial Views of Human Activity in Space


Dr. John B. Herrington

Dr. John B. Herrington

May 14, 2021
11:30am — 1:00pm ET

Team Space Enabled, in collaboration with Alvin Harvey and Frank Tavares, will host Dr. John B. Herrington,  Dr. Uahikea Maile, and Dr. Natalie Trevino,  in a discussion of Indigenous views of human space activity.  This is the first in a series of events on "Indigenous & Anticolonial Views of Human Activity in Space" hosted by the team. This event is co-sponsored by the MIT Native Students Association, MIT Office of Multicultural Programs & MIT's Chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.

Dr. John Herrington, USN (Ret), NASA Astronaut (Chickasaw Nation)

Dr. Herrington is a Commander, USN (Ret) and NASA Astronaut (Chickasaw Nation), as well as an educator and storyteller.  John B. Herrington, Ph.D. (Chickasaw) was the first member of a federally recognized tribe to travel to space. Like many children in the 1960s, he dreamed of becoming an astronaut. Although Herrington held tight to his goal of flying in space, his path to the astronaut corps was far from what one might expect. A lack of motivation as a freshman in college, his interest in rock climbing instead captured his imagination and he was subsequently suspended from college with a 1.72 GPA.

Using his expertise as a rock climber, Herrington found work as a member of a survey crew in the Colorado mountains. Exposed to the practical application of real-world mathematics, he found the passion for learning that had eluded him. Following the advice of the lead project engineer, Herrington returned to college and graduated with an engineering degree. He was also fortunate to meet a retired Navy captain who encouraged him to apply to the Navy, which led to a 22-year career as a Naval Aviator, test pilot, and astronaut.

His historic mission to the International Space Station (ISS) was the culmination of years of experience and training with men and women with diverse cultural and technical backgrounds, and provided Herrington with a unique perspective that he enjoys sharing with audiences worldwide. “From lift off to completing three space walks, mission STS-113 was more exciting and challenging than I could have imagined.” But Herrington’s work didn’t stop when he returned to earth. After a successful career as an astronaut, he ventured into the commercial space arena and eventually found a new passion.

Following a 4,300-mile bicycle ride across the United States, Herrington returned to university and earned a doctorate in Education. With humility and humor, John shares his stories of challenge, leadership, motivation, and mentorship with diverse audiences of all ages and occupations. His multimedia presentations inspire and entertain, and challenge people to seek out the best in themselves and in service to others.


Dr. John B. Herrington

Dr. David Uahikeaikaleiʻohu Maile

Dr. David Uahikeaikaleiʻohu Maile is a Kanaka Maoli scholar, activist, and practitioner from Maunawili, Oʻahu. He is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Politics in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto, St. George. He’s also an Affiliate Faculty in the Centre for Indigenous Studies and Centre for the Study of the United States. Maile’s research interests include: history, law, and activism on Hawaiian sovereignty; Indigenous critical theory; settler colonialism; political economy; feminist and queer theories; and decolonization. His book manuscript, Nā Makana Ea: Settler Colonial Capitalism and the Gifts of Hawaiian Sovereignty, examines the historical development and contemporary formation of settler colonial capitalism in Hawai‘i and gifts of sovereignty that seek to overturn it by issuing responsibilities for balancing relationships with ‘āina, the land and that which feeds.


obtained from personal website: https://uahikea.com/about

Dr. Natalie B. Treviño

Dr. Treviño is a space theoretician and award-winning educator who recently graduated from the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism at Western University in London, Ontario. Dr. Treviño's research focuses on how the colonial legacy of space exploration limits the vastness of the futures in space.  Dr. Treviño currently hosts an online decolonial reading group with hopes of carving out space for decolonial thinking within the space community.


Dr. Natalie Treviño


All times are in ET, post-daylights savings time

Keynote by Dr. John Herrington | 11:30 AM

An opening talk by Dr. John Herrington,  the first member of a federally recognized tribe to travel to space, about Indigenous views of space activity.

Panel Discussion with Dr. John Herrington, Dr. David Uahikeaikaleiʻohu Maile and  Dr. Natalie B. Treviño | 12: 15 PM

Panel discussion about  Indigenous views of human activity in space moderated by Dr. Danielle Wood.

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