Book on Cherokee engineer Mary Golda Ross set for March release

BY STAFF REPORTS
12/24/2020 02:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
“Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer” by Cherokee author Traci Sorell and Métis illustrator Natasha Donovan is set for a March release. COURTESY
MINNEAPOLIS – “Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer” by Cherokee author Traci Sorell and Métis illustrator Natasha Donovan is set for a March release.

The 32-page book traces Ross’s journey from being the only girl in her high school math class to becoming an accomplished engineer and leader. She was the first known Native American female engineer. In 1952, she joined Lockheed’s Advanced Development Program for the top-secret Skunk Works project where she worked on design concepts for interplanetary space travel, manned and unmanned earth-orbiting flights and early studies of orbiting satellites for defense and civilian purposes. Her works also included the Agena rocket project and design concepts for flyby missions to Venus and Mars.

By the late 1960s, Golda Ross became a senior advanced systems staff engineer and worked on the Polaris reentry vehicle and Trident missiles. 

Guided by her Cherokee belief that “gaining life skills in all areas” is important, Ross not only strived for better grades, she aimed for loftier goals, states a description of the book’s content.

“Each step of the way – whether teaching high school, working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs or helping solve aircraft design flaws during World War II – Ross is fueled by other Cherokee principles as well,” the book’s description adds.


She was born in Park Hill, Oklahoma, in 1908 to William Wallace and Mary Henrietta Ross and was the great-granddaughter of former Cherokee Nation Principal Chief John Ross. She died in 2008 at 99 years old. 


Ross attended Northeastern State Teacher’s College in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1928 and taught for nine years thereafter in rural Oklahoma schools.


Ross was hired as a mathematician by Lockheed in 1942 and began working on the effects of pressure on the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s P-38 Lightning airplane. She helped solve design issues involved with high-speed flight and aero-elasticity. As the corporation’s first female engineer, she broke barriers as a Cherokee woman in a male-dominated field.

“This empowering picture book will serve as a mirror, window, and door for aspiring young readers in STEM fields,” states a press release from Millbrook Press (an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group). “‘Classified’ showcases Cherokee values including education, working cooperatively, remaining humble and helps ensure equal opportunity and education for all.”

The hardcover will retail for $19.99. It will also be available as an eBook. For information, visit lernerbooks.blog, @LernerBooks on Twitter, Lerner Publishing Group on Facebook or lernerbooks on Instagram.

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