Susan La Flesche Picotte: The First Native American Doctor

Happy birthday to Susan La Flesche Picotte!

Don’t know her? That’s okay, most don’t.

She was the first Native American female Doctor.

She was born in a buckskin teepee on the frontier on June 17, 1865.

She applied for a scholarship from the bureau of Indian affairs, and became the first person ever to receive federal aid for a professional education. She attended the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, one of very few places in America that would accept women for a medical education at the time.

She was employed by the bureau of Indian affairs for $500 a year, 10 percent of the salary an  Army or Navy Doctor  made at the time. Sometimes the bureau would run out of money, and she would have to buy the supplies on her own.

She travelled by horseback around the Omaha reservation to care for native and white people. She realized her lifelong dream by getting a hospital built on the reservation, without a penny of federal government aid.

She did it all while raising and caring for her own family. Raising two kids with an alcoholic husband.

She is an extraordinary and inspiring figure. She overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve her dream and help thousands.

She is one of the many stories too often overlooked in American history.

Only 8 percent of all public statues or monuments are named after women.

This country wasn’t built only by white men, and they shouldn’t be the only ones honored.


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