JUNE 17, 1865

DR. SUSAN LA FLESCHE PICOTTE, FIRST NATIVE AMERICAN PHYSICIAN, BORN

Dr. La Flesche Picotte was born on the Omaha Reservation in eastern Nebraska.  Her father, Joseph La Flesche, named “Iron Eye,” was a principal leader of the Omaha tribe. He and her mother, Mary, stressed education to their children. Susan ultimately enrolled at Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. To circumvent prejudices against women physicians, her application stressed her desire to promote hygiene in homes. In 1889, she graduated at the top of her class and began work as physician at the Omaha reservation boarding school. She was also involved in efforts to fight tuberculosis, alcoholism, and fraud in Indian land allotments. She died on September 18, 1915. The reservation hospital is now a National Historic landmark.  Her siblings also enjoyed success: Rosalie was financial manager for the Omaha Nation, Marguerite taught on the Yankton Sioux reservation, and Susette was a writer, lecturer, and activist.  Half-brother Francis was a Smithsonian ethnologist.  

Sources:  Christopher Klein, "Remembering the First Native American Woman Doctor," History, 11/17/2016.  Retrieved 7/3/2019, https://www.history.com/news/remembering-the-first-native-american-woman-doctor "Susan La Flesche's legacy lives on," Native Daughters. University of Nebraska Lincoln. Retrieved 7/3/2019, http://cojmc.unl.edu/nativedaughters/healers/susan-la-flesches-legacy-lives-on Valerie Sherer Mathes, "Susan Laflesche Picotte.MD.: Nineteenth-Century Physician and Reformer," Great Plains Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Summer 1993), available through JSTOR.  Retrieved 7/3/2019, https://www.jstor.org/stable/23531722?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents Norma Kidd Green, “Four Sisters: Daughters of Joseph LaFlesche,” Nebraska History Vol. 45 (1964): 165-176.  Retrieved 7/3/2019, http://www.nebraskahistory.org/publish/publicat/history/full-text/NH1964LaFlesche.pdf Date: 3/23/2011
Photo:  Author and date unknown.  Photo pre-1915.  National Library of Medicine.  Public Domain in U.S.:  Pre 1/1/1925.  Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 70 years or less.

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