The Queen of My Self

On Thanksgiving, we always tell the story about how the native people helped the pilgrims to survive and ultimately thrive in the new world. This is well and good, but there are so many other inspiring stories that could be told about the many purposeful, powerful Native American women who influenced the formation of this country.

I recently came across Woman Spirit, a fascinating web page by Julia White, of Cherokee and Sioux heritage. She writes:

 “From the beginning of time, Native women have been a driving force in their cultures. When the explorers came to the shores of North America, they provided valuable information and services, which still carries their mark today. Sadly, little has been written about these women, and little is known.”

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, this week I will share in my own words some information that I gleaned about exceptional native Sheros thanks to Julia White’s research.

Susan La Flesche

Susan’s father, Iron Eyes, was the last Omaha chief. He believed that since the white man had established permanent residency and was here to stay, the best survival method for his people was to learn the ways of the whites. His children were well educated and went on to become authors, politicians, orators, anthropologists and doctors. Susan, in fact, was the first Native American woman ever to earn a medical degree.

After the completion of her training, Susan returned to Nebraska as a government physician. She traveled from one reservation to another on horseback and treated anyone who needed medical attention. It is told that she treated every Omaha person at one time or another during her life.

Susan married and moved first to Bancroft, Nebraska where she established a private practice treating both Native and white patients, and then to the newly established town of Walthill where she founded a hospital.

As a community leader in Walthill, she headed a delegation to Washington to fight against the sale of liquor in Nebraska. Her efforts resulted in a covenant being placed in land sale documents that prohibited the possession of liquor on any land purchased from the Omaha.

Tomorrow Native Sheros – Part 5

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Queen Mama Donna offers upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity.

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