A Warrior of the People
How Susan La Flesche Overcame Racial and Gender Inequality to Become America's First Indian Doctor
Joe Starita, Carrington MacDuffie
On March 14, 1889, Susan La Flesche received her medical degree-becoming the first Native American doctor in US history. She earned her degree thirty-one years before women could vote and thirty-five years before Indians could become citizens in their own country.
By age twenty-six, this fragile but indomitable Indian woman became the doctor to her tribe. Overnight, she acquired 1,244 patients scattered across 1,350 square miles of rolling countryside with few roads. Her patients often were desperately poor and desperately sick with tuberculosis, small pox, measles, and influenza, with their families scattered miles apart, and whose last hope was a young woman who spoke their language and knew their customs.
This is the story of an Indian woman who effectively became the chief of an entrenched patriarchal tribe, the story of a woman who crashed through thick walls of ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice and then spent the rest of her life using a unique bicultural identity to improve the lot of her people-physically, emotionally, politically, and spiritually.
A Warrior of the People is the moving biography of Susan La Flesche's inspirational life, the subject of the PBS documentary Medicine Woman, and it will finally shine a light on her numerous accomplishments.