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Indian Country Today is celebrating the contributions of Native America with a series of features. Follow the hashtag #NativeIn2019

Today’s story is about the Navajo mechanical engineer who sent hardware to Mars, Aaron Yazzie. Now he is working on the Mars 2020 mission.

See related: “I have hardware on Mars!”

Last November, the NASA engineer made national headlines as the Mars InSight Lander made its way to land on the surface of Mars. Yazzie, who had built the pressure inlet, which was part of the auxiliary payload sensor subsystem — which functions as “the eyes and ears of the lander” — waited with apprehension as the lander made its way to the surface of the red planet and eventually landed with success.

ICYMI: NASA's next generation of Natives: After the moon, it's the 2020 Mission to Mars

As a #Nativein2019, Yazzie posted on Facebook:

“My parents always taught me growing up that I should always be useful. This means jumping up to help your elders/family/those around you when you see they are doing work (cooking, cleaning, chores, working outside, etc.). This lesson helped us #Navajo children to not be selfish or lazy, and recognize that we have the ability to contribute as much as anyone else.

Today this lesson has a broader meaning for me. Being a #Nativein2019 means you continually strive to be useful… but now with greater impact and importance. You can see #Indigenous elders, leaders, peers doing the work around you to change the world and better our communities… and we are compelled and committed to jump up to help in any way possible. On this first day of #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth, I remind myself to always be useful.”

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For info on Yazzie, visit his website.

Join Indian Country in November, Native American Heritage Month, as we celebrate being #Nativein2019.

Native in 2019. Native American Heritage Month 2019.

About Native American Heritage Month and Native American Heritage Day

President George H.W. Bush signed a joint resolution in 1990 designating November as Native American Heritage Month. Each year the president has proclaimed the day after Thanksgiving as Native American Heritage Day. 

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Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling and Instagram - @VinceSchilling

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