Doctor Susan La Flesche Picotte Biography

Susan La Flesche Picotte BiographySuzanne LaFlesche Picotte (June 17, 1865 – September 18, 1915) was an Omaha Native American doctor and reformer in the late 19th century. She is widely acknowledged as the first Native American physician. She campaigned for public health and for the formal, legal allotment of land to members of the Omaha tribe. Picotte was an active social reformer as well as a physician. She worked to discourage drinking on the reservation where she worked as the physician, as part of the temperance movement of the 19th century. Picotte also campaigned against tuberculosis, as part of a public health campaign on the reservation. She also worked to help other Omaha navigate the bureaucracy of the Office of Indian Affairs and receive the money owed to them for the sale of their land.

Susan La Flesche Picotte BiographyPicotte suffered for most of her life from chronic illness. In medical school, she had been bothered by trouble breathing, and after a few years working on the reservation, she was forced to take a break to recover her health in 1892, as she suffered from chronic pain in her neck, head, and ears. She recovered but became ill again in 1893, after a fall from her horse left her with significant internal injuries. As Picotte aged, her health declined, and by the time that the new reservation hospital was built in Walthill in 1913, she was too frail to be its sole administrator.

Susan La Flesche Picotte BiographyBy early March 1915, she was suffering greatly and died of what was probably bone cancer on 15 September 1915. She is buried in Bancroft Cemetery, Bancroft, Nebraska near her father, mother, sisters and half-brother. Picotte's sons went on to live full lives. Caryl made a career in the United States Army and served in World War II, eventually ending up in Detroit, Michigan. Pierre lived in Walthill, Nebraska for most of his life and raised a family of three children. The reservation hospital in Walthill, Nebraska, now a community center, is named after Picotte and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1993.
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