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National Native American Heritage Month: Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte

November 7, 2022

National Native American Heritage Month is celebrated during the month of November each year in the U.S. It’s a time to honor the rich and diverse culture, tradition, and history of Native people, and to acknowledge their important contributions to our country.

From the invention of the first syringes, made from animal bladders and bird bones, to the creation of baby bottles and formula, Native people have made many invaluable contributions to healthcare. Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte made waves in the country when she became the first Native American Doctor in 1889!

At this time in America, Native Americans were often turned away from medical care outside of their tribes, leading to early deaths over common ailments. After losing countless prominent women in her tribe, Susan knew she wanted to become a doctor to do her part in ensuring access to medical care for everyone.

In her time as a doctor, she travelled by foot and horseback through bracing cold and sweltering heat to serve more than 1400 people spanning over 400 miles. In 1915, just two years before her death, Dr. Picotte fulfilled her lifelong dream of building a hospital in the Native reservation town of Walthill, Nebraska – the first modern hospital in Thurston County. Today, the hospital is a museum called ” The Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte Center ,” and is dedicated to her legacy and the history of the Omaha and Winnebago tribes.

[Pictured: Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte Center]

Ahead of her time, Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte’s incredible story of resilience and determination is one of many in the rich history of Indigenous communities in the U.S. Learn more about the legacy of Dr. Picotte and Native American Heritage here -Happy National Native American Heritage Month to you!


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