Medicine Woman…It’s Love That Heals

Expand/Collapse Medicine Woman…It’s Love That Heals


Susan La Flesche Picotte (1865-1915) lived on the Nebraska frontier during a time of violent change.  As a child she watched an Indian woman die because the white doctor never showed up:  “It was only an Indian and it did not matter.”  So she became a doctor herself, graduating first in her class from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. She returned home to a tribe ravaged by disease and alcohol and devoted the rest of her life to healing wounds of body and spirit.


When a way of life is shattered, it’s often the women who become the healers. Today’s medicine women struggle, as Doctor Susan did, to serve their people, to raise their families, to hold onto their tribal identities. How can they hope to mend the wounds of body and soul that history has created? And what have they learned about news ways of healing that can help us all? 

 

  • Birthday of Susan La Flesche Picotte

    Susan La Flesche was born in the summer of 1865, likely during one of the last buffalo hunts of the Omaha tribe. “When a child is born, the parents give the child a name four days after birth. And the child is introduced to the four directions and to the Creator.”

    Grades: 4-12
  • President Obama visits the Standing Rock Reservation

    The tribal chairman invited the president and first lady to come see for themselves.  It was an historic visit—only the fourth time in American history that a sitting president has visited an Indian reservation.  But what the pictures don’t show are the private moments, as Lakota children shared stories of friends and family lost to drugs, violence and suicide.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Susan La Flesche graduates from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania

    Susan La Flesche graduates from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania at the head of her class. She’s the first Native American to become a medical doctor at a time in history when even the most privileged white woman faced an uphill battle.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Dedication of the Susan Picotte Hospital & Death of Susan La Flesche Picotte

    For many years, Doctor Picotte had dreamed of building her own hospital—a place of healing in the heart of her community. That hospital was finally built and dedicated in 1913. Two years after the hospital opened Doctor Susan La Flesche Picotte died at home in Walthill.

     

    Grades: 4-12
  • Crossing Bridges

    A common thread weaving together the lives of these Native American women doctors in Medicine Woman is that each woman had to build many bridges or cross many barriers to achieve success. They were women in a male-dominated world.  They were Native Women in a non-native culture. And they carried their traditional healing ways into the western medical model. 

    Grades: 4-12
  • Coming Home

    “She was the ultimate home girl. She was from here, she knew the language, she knew the culture, she knew the relationships and that’s what carried her. She was one of us.

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Each of the women featured in the film felt the call to bring their training and their skills back home to their people and to integrate modern medicine into the more traditional ways of their people.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Holistic Medicine

    A Navajo medicine man, Dr. Arviso writes, heals with songs, herbs, sand painting, and ceremonies held by firelight in the deep of winter.  He believes that everything in life is connected-- humans, spirits and nature.  He treats the whole person, not just the illness.  He practices hozho, a Navajo word meaning living in harmony and balance.

    Grades: 4-12
  • Generations of Healing

    450 square miles. 1,200 patients, Indian and white. One doctor.  In the years after medical school, Doctor Susan La Flesche is saving those she can save and comforting those she cannot.

    Grades: 4-12
  • A Pellet of Poison

    The strange story of how the lives of two famous women--Marie Curie and Doctor Susan Picotte--intersected in 1915.
    In the autumn of 1915 on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Nebraska a small package arrived at the home of Doctor Susan Picotte.  It contained a tiny pellet of radium sent by Madam Marie Curie to save the life of the first Native American doctor as she lay dying of cancer. 

    Grades: 4-12

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