Monday, May 17, 2021

Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer

Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer ~ by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Natasha Donovan, 2021, children's, 7/10

Mary Golda Ross designed classified airplanes and spacecraft as Lockheed Aircraft Corporation's first female engineer.  Her passion for math and the Cherokee values she was raised with shaped her life and work.  Cherokee author Traci Sorell and Métis illustrator Natasha Donovan trace Ross's journey from being the only girl in a high school math class to becoming a teacher to pursuing an engineering degree, joining the top-secret Skunk Works division of Lockheed, and being a mentor for young women and Native Americans interested in engineering.  The narrative also highlights Cherokee values, including (1) gaining skills in all areas of life, (2) working cooperatively with others, (3) remaining humble when others recognize your talents, and (4) helping ensure equal education and opportunity for all.

Word of the Day #1

Métis / meɪˈtiː(s) / = indigenous peoples in Canada and parts of the United States who are of mixed Indigenous and European (primarily French) ancestry.

This page showing John Ross is my favorite part of the book.  I had not even noticed her last name was "Ross" when I put the book on reserve, but I definitely DO know about her great-great-grandfather.  Here's what that page says:
"In the hills of northeastern Oklahoma, Mary's Cherokee tribe provided education for everyone.  Her great-great grandfather, John Ross, had served as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.  He helped create a school that later became a state teacher's college, which Mary began attending at the age of sixteen."
The John Ross House is located near Rossville, Georgia, over the state line and maybe a couple of miles from the house where I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The town of Rossville was also named for him.

Here's a photo of the Chief John Ross Bridge, also known as the Market Street Bridge, connecting downtown Chattanooga to the North Shore.  The bridge is approximately where the Cherokee people left home on the Trail of Tears to trek to Oklahoma in the forced relocation during the 1830s.  "The term Trail of Tears invokes the collective suffering those people experienced, although it is most commonly used in reference to the removal experiences of the Southeast Indians generally and the Cherokee nation specifically."  By the way, that's Lookout Mountain in the distance on the left.

Word of the Day #2
trek /trek/ noun = a long arduous journey, especially one made on foot.
Mary Golda Ross's great-great grandfather is very well known in Chattanooga, as you can see.  The top photo shows the author with her book.  Click the links to read more about the history.


Helen's Book Blog said...

This looks like a good book on a woman I know nothing about.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

It's wonderful to hear more stories about people who have often been left out in the past.