Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte

About the Sculpture

On Friday, March 26, the Nebraska State Capitol Environs Committee voted to approve a submission by City of Lincoln Parks and Recreation for a bronze sculpture of trailblazing Nebraska Native American physician Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte to be placed on Centennial Mall in a space next to the Scottish Rite Temple across from the State Office building between L and M streets.

The statue will show the doctor in a traditional Omaha period dress toting her medical bag, and plans call for her likeness to be placed on a limestone platform. Dedication of finalized bronze sculpture will be on October 11, 2021. Event details to be announced.

The sculpture is funded by a generous local donor.

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Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte

June 17, 1865 – September 18, 1915

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte was born on the Omaha Reservation to Chief Joseph La Fleshe (Iron Eyes)  in northeast Nebraska in 1865 and died in 1915. She became the first Native person to earn a medical degree in 1889. After receiving her degree from Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania , she returned to the reservation to care for Native and non-Native residents, and two years before her death, Picotte opened a hospital in Walthill.

Her drive and dedication for medical care came from an early experience with unequal care for the Omaha tribespeople by white doctors. She campaigned for public health and for the formal, legal allotment of  land to members of the Omaha tribe. She was fluent in English and her native tongue, could speak French and Otoe, too. 

La Flesche graduated second in her class in 1865 from the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia, now Hampton University. Three years later she received her medical degree from Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMCP). She graduated as valedictorian of her class and could practice medicine. But as a woman, she could not vote—and as an Indian, she could not call herself a citizen under American law. After a year of internship, she returned home to provide healthcare to the Omaha tribespeople at the government boarding school.

In her remarkable career she served more than 1,300 people over 450 square miles, giving financial advice and resolving family disputes as well as providing medical care at all hours of the day and night. Two years before her death in 1913, she opened a hospital in the reservation town of Walthill, Nebraska.

Resources: 


About the Sculptor Ben Victor

benjaminvictor.com  

Benjamin Victor, one of the nation's leading figurative artists, was commissioned to create the piece which captures the powerful image of Chief Standing Bear in 2017. The sculpture presents the Chief as he stands in a courtroom with his right hand outstretched fighting for the freedom to return to his homeland to bury his son. Standing Bear's simple, yet powerful declaration of "I Am A Man" would echo through the annals of United States history as one of the defining moments in our nations struggles for equality and civil rights.

 At 26, Victor became the youngest artist ever to have a sculpture in the National Statuary Hall, when his sculpture of Native activist Sarah Winnemucca was installed in the U.S. Capitol. Nine years later, he became the only living artist to have two works in the hall.

 Chief Standing Bear, of the Ponca tribe, stands larger than life, immortalized in bronze. He is dressed as he may have been for the trial that made him a civil rights icon, with an eagle feather in his hair, a bear claw necklace, holding his axe.


 Upcoming events:

 Meet Sculptor Ben Victor

Dedication of the sculpture will take place on Monday, October, 11, Indigenous Peoples Day, on Centennial Mall. Additional event details are to be announced.

Other articles about the sculpture: 

http://netnebraska.org/article/news/1259435/nebraska-honors-first-native-doctor-bronze-sculpture

https://omaha.com/news/state-and-regional/statue-of-first-native-doctor-in-us-to-find-home-on-lincolns-centennial-mall/article_f8467783-f9ee-5055-88fb-919d0f6c5a05.html