With over a century separating them, explore how the lives of the modern Native women doctors featured in the film compare to the world of Dr. Susan La Flesche. Examine both the historical contexts and the challenges they faced as both women and Native Americans. How are the challenges different? How are they the same?
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?