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Our First Scientists: The Power of Native American Representation in STEM Fields

Science, Technology & Innovation

Our First Scientists: The Power of Native American Representation in STEM Fields

A Conversation with American Indian Science & Engineering Society CEO Sarah EchoHawk

Friday, February 10, 2023
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Doors at 11:15am / Lunch at 11:30am / Forum begins 12:00pm

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"It’s empowering to see Native women stepping forward again and being supported to reassert that authority and power, and become leaders again in our communities - and one of the ways we’re doing that is through STEM." – Sarah EchoHawk

Native Americans are these land's first scientists and innovators. In fact, more than fifty present-day medications used across the globe have been developed using traditional Native medicines. And Indigenous teachings continue to fuel innovative solutions to modern-day issues. From designing and building renewable energy infrastructure, to developing hybrid electric commercial aircraft--Native Americans today have left lasting marks on science and technology for the benefit of all.

Just last October, NASA Astronaut Nicole Mann became the first Native American woman to go into space. Her historic flight on NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 mission has also reignited a conversation about Native women's role in STEM. Many tribes still maintain a matrilineal structure, where women hold the power and decision-making authority among their people, and are often heads of houses. Investing in Native women in STEM has the power to improve families and communities, yet Native women still face barriers with access to STEM careers.

Founded in 1977, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) is a national nonprofit organization that aims to reverse this trend. Now in its 45th year, AISES supports 230 pre-college schools and 196 college and university chapters in the U.S. and Canada. To date, AISES has awarded nearly $12 million in academic scholarships, and counting.

Sarah EchoHawk, a citizen of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, has led AISES as CEO since 2013. Prior to joining AISES, she served as the Executive Vice President of First Nations Development Institute, a national nonprofit organization with a focus on economic development for Indigenous people.

Join the City Club as we hear from Sarah EchoHawk as part of the KeyBank Diversity Thought Leadership Series on the importance of Native American representation in STEM fields, and harnessing the power of their contributions to scientific advancement.


The livestream will be available beginning at 12:00pm. Have questions? Tweet them at @TheCityClub or send a text to 330.541.5794.

For more information on City Club's health and safety protocols, click here. Email with any questions.

Production and distribution of City Club forums in partnership with Ideastream Public Media is generously provided by PNC and the United Black Fund.

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