Susan LaFlesche Picotte (1865-1915)  

First Native American Woman M.D.

also  a summary of her life and work (best single web page to read or print)


The following extract is from the Southern Workman: Dr. Walker, one of principal lecturers of the college, in his address at its commencement, spoke thus of the Indian graduate:  Dr. La Flesche commenced her studies of English at the school on the Indian reservation. Coming East, she continued them for awhile at a boarding-school, and later at the excellent school for her people at Hampton, Va., where she graduated in 1886, and came at once to Philadelphia to study medicine. The impulse to a professional career was not of recent growth nor from friendly suggestions from those who had watched her course. It came as an inspiration when at home with her people and was born of a desire to see them independent, so far as she could make them, of the too frequently unskilled and oftener indifferent attention of the reservation doctor. What must those who oppose women physicians as impossibilities or monstrosities think of such a course? Thoughtful of a service to her people, child though she was, she permits not the magnitude of her task to stay the inspiration, but bravely, thoughtfully, diligently pursues the course, and to day receives her fitting reward. All this without a precedent. She will stand among her people as the first woman physician. Surely we may record with joy such courage, constancy and ability."
Source: Medical Missionary Record, vol. 4, 1889, p. 126.    1


Susan truly had faced obstacles above and beyond those faced by nineteenth century white women, yet she overcame every one and dedicated her life to her grateful people. Her story is a litany of frontier vignettes of which classic legends are made, and it needs no embellishment. Dr. Susan could very well emerge as one of the more notable heroines in American History."  Dennis Hastings, Omaha Tribe Historian From the foreward of Native American Doctor, the Story of Susan LaFlesche Picotte, by Jeri Ferris, 1991. ISBN 0-87614-443-1 (lib. bdg.), ISBN 0-87614-548-9 (pbk.), 88 pages.


 Paternal Grandparents

Maternal Grandparents

 Joseph LaFlesche his wife, a Ponca

Dr. John Gale

Ni-co-mi of the Iowa Tribe


  aka Iron Eye, last recognized chief of the Omahas, aka last of the great Chiefs Joseph LaFlesche Mary Gale  


At least 2 other daughters and a son, one was Marguerite Diddock Susan LaFlesche Picotte, the youngest daughter Henry Picotte  

Caryl and Pierre, two sons



One of Dr. Susan's letters to Indian Affairs requesting help

Dr. Susan Picotte Memorial Hospital

Community Driven Approach

Something More  Dr. Picotte had "Something More" as did many Nobel Prize winners - who is able to change the face of society?

Heroes in Medicine

Rural Medical Education main website

Full text of NLM source at

LaFlesche received her medical degree from the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1889, graduating at the top of her class. She spent her internship at the Woman's Hospital in Philadelphia. From August of 1889 to October of 1893, she served on the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska as physician to her tribe, finally resigning for health reasons.

Susan LaFlesche Picotte
Photographic reproduction: From collections of the National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Photo. no. 4503.     1  

Mention of La Flesche's entry into medical service:

"THE FIRST WOMAN PHYSICIAN AMONG HER PEOPLE. It affords us much pleasure to note the graduation of an honor conferred upon a female member of the Omaha tribe of Indians.  The lady in question is Dr. Susan La Flesche, who has graduated at the Women's Medical College, Philadelphia. It appears that the Doctor had already become a favorite among her people, and now that she returns to take them scientific medicine, combined with Christianity, to replace the 'Medicine Man' of former days, we may feel assured of her usefulness and success among them.

Letter from Picotte to Commissioner of Indian Affairs Francis E. Leupp, page 1, November 15, 1907. Color reproduction of letter: Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

House of Susan La Flesche Picotte: Walthill, Nebraska. She resided here from 1908 until 1915, when she died. Photographic reproduction, from collections of the National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Photo. no. 54,752-A.    1

Picotte's obituary:

"DR. SUSAN LA FLESCHE PICOTTE, of Walthill, Neb., died at her home on September 18, aged forty-nine years. She was a daughter of Pierre La Flesche, or Iron Eye, the last of the great chiefs of the Omaha tribe, and had devoted her life to the interests of her tribe, by whom she was regarded as the leader. She was graduated from the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in the class of 1889 and was a member of the Nebraska State Medical Society."    1

Source: Transactions of the Annual Meeting of the Alumnae Association of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, vol. 41, 1916, p. 35.         1


1. Full text of NLM source at

2. About her personal life and upbringing

3. Details on her practice and her ear disease, her activism, and more about the hospital she built from at the Center for Rural Affairs site

4. Her campaign for awareness of native problems, also links to purchasing books about her and other natives

5. Missionary, practice, and personal life

Pictured comparing her to her niece at a similar age in 2001

About the Omaha Tribe

About the Winnebago Tribe and Scouts

Winnebago agency picture

Fixing Maldistribution

Underserved - Overview and Models

Best Works on Site

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