Dr Susan <I>La Flesche</I> Picotte

Dr Susan La Flesche Picotte

Cuming County, Nebraska, USA
Death 15 Sep 1915 (aged 50)
Walthill, Thurston County, Nebraska, USA
Burial Bancroft, Cuming County, Nebraska, USA
Plot C8
Memorial ID 54038381 · View Source
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Physician. The first American Native woman to receive a medical degree.

Born on the Omaha Indian Reservation north of Omaha, Nebraska, Susan was the daughter of Chief Joseph La Flesche (Insta Maza, Iron Eye) and his wife Mary (Hinnuagsnun, One Woman) Gale.

Her parents encouraged her and her siblings to obtain educations and never limited them to basic studies. At about the age of 16, Susan went to New Jersey to attend the Elizabeth Institute for Young Ladies. She returned to the reservation and taught at the Quaker Mission School for two years where she met Alice Fletcher, an ethnologist conducting studies on the reservation.

At the urging of Fletcher, Susan enrolled for undergraduate work at Hampton Institute, a prominent historically black college (HBCU), which also admitted Native American students. Recognizing Susan's potential, Dr. Martha Waldron, the school's resident physician, encouraged Susan to apply to her alma mater, the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMCP) in Philadelphia.

With the help of Alice Fletcher she secured scholarship funds from the U.S. Office of Indian Affairs and the Connecticut Indian Association, a branch of the Women's National Indian Association. The highly intelligent Susan La Flesche took only two years to complete the three year course and graduated at the top of her class in 1889.

After a year's internship in Philiadelphia, she returned to the reservation to provide health care to the people of the Omaha Nation.

Susan La Flesche married Henry Picotte in 1894 and they lived in Bancroft, Nebraska until his death. She then moved her medical practice to Walthill, a community within the reservation, with her two sons and widowed mother.

In addition to her pioneering medical career, Dr. Picotte was a church and community leader, public health advocate, and Indian rights activist.

For about twenty years, she had suffered from severe pain in her ear that was caused by a degenerative bone disease and which contributed to her diminishing health and an early death at the age of 50.

Not long before her death, she realized her dream of constructing a hospital on the reservation in the town of Walthill. After her death, it was named in her honor. The hospital served both Native Americans and whites for over 30 years, then served as an elder care center for another 20 years.

In 1989, the building was rescued from deterioration by a local multi-racial committee and is now a museum honoring her legacy - a life devoted to promoting health, healing illness, serving her community, honoring her heritage, and fostering respect between races.

Gravesite Details Most stories on the internet about Susan have her death a Sept 18, but her grave marker says Sept 15.


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  • Created by: Nan
  • Added: 23 Jun 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 54038381
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Dr Susan La Flesche Picotte (17 Jun 1865–15 Sep 1915), Find a Grave Memorial no. 54038381, citing Bancroft Cemetery, Bancroft, Cuming County, Nebraska, USA ; Maintained by Nan (contributor 46795555) .