A Woman to Know: Susan "Bright Eyes" La Flesche Picotte

I saw the need of my people for a good physician. — Susanne La Flesche Picotte

(image via Wikimedia)


When she was just a child living on the Omaha Reservation, Susan "Bright Eyes" La Flesche watched the local white doctor refuse to treat an older Native American woman, even as she lay dying. Ten years later, Susan became the first person awarded government aid to go to college — because she wanted to study medicine, to return to Nebraska to help her people. In 1889, she graduated from the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, the first-ever Native American to earn an M.D. After one year interning in a hospital, she returned to Nebraska, where she spent the rest of her life treating thousands of people over more than 450 square miles — both white patients and Native American patients.

In 1913, just two years before her death, she fulfilled her lifelong dream: opening a hospital just outside the reservation, where doctors treated patients of all races and backgrounds.

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