This book is a tribute to Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte, the first Native American doctor in the United States. She became a physician in 1889, at a time before either Native Americans or women had been given the right to vote. After graduating from medical school in the East, she returned to Nebraska to serve her Omaha people at the Macy reservation. At a time when her tribal people were in desperate need of medical help and leadership, she was a healer and an advocate for their welfare.
Famous persons and incidents in Nebraska history are described, especially related to Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte and the Omaha tribe of Native Americans. There are anecdotes about historic leaders such as Blackbird, Big Elk, Logan Fontanelle, Joseph and Susan La Flesche, Standing Bear, Sitting Bull, Lewis and Clark, John C Fremont, and John Neihardt. Infectious diseases such as smallpox, influenza, measles, tuberculosis, and typhoid fever, cholera, and dysentery that were so deadly for Native Americans are described. Selected incidents between Plains tribes and the U.S. government that were instrumental for the future of Native Americans are examined. Incidents include the trial of Standing Bear, the battle at Little Bighorn, and the Massacre at Wounded Knee. Numerous photos, paintings, and illustrations add color and excitement to the stories that are told.
There are four stories in the book. The first story is about the Omaha people, their history as a noble tribe, and their challenges in interacting with a white culture that invaded their territory. The second story describes deadly infectious diseases that were brought to the continent by Europeans, and that have greatly impacted all Native Americans. The third story is about Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte and her family. The fourth story examines "historical or intergenerational trauma" as one cause of mental health and societal problems that continue to be experienced by Omaha people today.
The first settlers of our land, the Native Americans, have suffered great losses since the 1700s. Americans today can help Native people to heal from this "trauma of the soul." The Omaha tribe of Native Americans are surviving and growing. With our help, their tribe can continue to progress.