Modern American Indians
A member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, John Herrington was selected for the sixteenth Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station. He performed three spacewalks totaling almost twenty hours and became the first Native American to fly into space. To honor his heritage, Herrington carried a Chickasaw Nation  flag on the thirteen-day trip.
Sam Bradford, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, played quarterback for the University of Oklahoma. In 2008 he won the Heisman Trophy, the first Native American to win college football's highest honor. He currently is the starting quarterback for the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League.
Adam Beach grew up on the Lake Manitoba/Dog Creek First Nation Reserve at Lake Manitoba, Canada. He starred in the 2002 film Windtalkers, after learning the Navajo language to prepare for the role. Beach portrayed Ira Hayes in Clint Eastwood's feature film Flags of Our Fathers, and in 2011, he starred in Cowboys & Aliens, a science fiction Western film.
N. Scott Momaday was born in Lawton, Oklahoma, in 1934, and is a member of the Kiowa Nation. His novel House Made of Dawn was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction  in 1969, the first American Indian-authored work to be so honored. A dynamic speaker, Momaday is recognized as a major figure in the acceptance of Native American authors into the mainstream.
An enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, LeAnne Howe currently is a Professor at the University of Illinois.  In 2010-2011, Howe was selected as a Fulbright Scholar and, while researching a new novel, she taught at the University of Jordan, Amman. Howe's first novel, Shell Shaker, received an American Book Award in 2002 from the Before Columbus Foundation.
Maria Tallchief, whose father was a chief of the Osage Nation, was the first Native American  to become prima ballerina. She danced with the New York City Ballet, from its founding in 1947 through 1965. She is best known for originating the role of the Sugarplum Fairy in George Balanchine's version of The Nutcracker, in 1954.
Wilma Pearl Mankiller was the first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation  of Oklahoma, serving from 1985 to 1995. Her tenure saw a population increase of Cherokee Nation citizens from 55,000 to 156,000, and a strong resurgence of tribally-owned businesses. Upon her passing in 2010, President Obama said, "As the Cherokee Nationís first female chief, she transformed the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the Cherokee Nation and the Federal Government, and served as an inspiration to women in Indian Country and across America."
Louise Erdrich is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. She is the author of numerous widely-acclaimed novels and children's books. Her 1984 novel, Love Medicine, was the first American Indian-authored book to use post modern techniques of multiple narrators and large leaps of time. The book was highly praised by critics and won the National Book Critics Circle Award .