Susan La Flesche Graduates from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania | Medicine Woman
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.
The film highlights just a few of the women doctors in Indian Country. Do research to learn how many Native American women are entering the medical field either as doctors or nurses today. Do a similar search to discover how many women in general are entering the medical fields. How do the numbers compare?
What does it take to heal a people? That’s the question at the heart of Medicine Woman, a one-hour PBS documentary interweaving the lives of Native healers of today with that of the first Native American doctor. Born on the Nebraska frontier in 1865, Susan La Flesche Picotte broke through formidable barriers to achieve “great and beneficial ends.” The daughter of a powerful Omaha leader, she graduated first in her class from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania and returned home to fight for the very survival of her tribe. Wherever she went, she healed bodies and lifted spirits.
Like Doctor Susan, modern day medicine women are fighting a war, sharing a confident, even joyful approach to the work of healing. In Medicine Woman you’ll meet three remarkable women from the Omaha, Lakota and Navajo tribes. Without fanfare, in their own communities, they perform small miracles that the world rarely sees. How can they hope to mend the wounds of body and spirit that history has created? And what have they learned about new ways of healing that can help us all?