College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

April 10: "A Doctor to Her Tribe and a Warrior for Her People" – Joe Starita

Date: 
April 10, 2017 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm

Dolezal Auditorium, 127 Curtiss Hall

Joe Starita, an endowed professor of journalism at the University of Nebraska, will discuss his latest book, A Warrior of the People: How Susan La Flesche Overcame Racial and Gender Inequality to Become America's First Indian Doctor. The biography of La Flesche recounts how the Omaha woman earned a medical degree in 1889 and subsequently returned to the reservation to serve as a physician to and advocate for the Omaha tribe. Joe Starita previously spent 14 years at The Miami Herald, first as the newspaper’s New York Bureau Chief and later as part of its Investigations Team. He returned to his native Nebraska in 1992 and began focusing his research and writing on the regional Native American culture and history. His other books include The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge – A Lakota Odyssey, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in history, and “I Am A Man” – Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice

About the book: 

A Warrior of the People: How Susan La Flesche Overcame Racial and Gender Inequality to Become America's First Indian Doctor

On March 14, 1889, Susan La Flesche Picotte received her medical degree―becoming the first Native American doctor in U.S. history. She earned her degree thirty-one years before women could vote and thirty-five years before Indians could become citizens in their own country.

By age twenty-six, this fragile but indomitable Indian woman became the doctor to her tribe. Overnight, she acquired 1,244 patients scattered across 1,350 square miles of rolling countryside with few roads. Her patients often were desperately poor and desperately sick―tuberculosis, small pox, measles, influenza―families scattered miles apart, whose last hope was a young woman who spoke their language and knew their customs.

This is the story of an Indian woman who effectively became the chief of an entrenched patriarchal tribe, the story of a woman who crashed through thick walls of ethnic, racial and gender prejudice, then spent the rest of her life using a unique bicultural identity to improve the lot of her people―physically, emotionally, politically, and spiritually.