Susan La Flesche grew up at a time when her tribe faced a serious crisis: do they fight to keep their culture intact or do they adapt to white culture?
Her father, Joseph La Flesche, the last chief of the Omaha, made the tough decision to combine both cultures and he set an example with his own family.
He taught his children the value of an education; exposed them to aspects of their culture to keep and others to let go of like facial tattooing.
When each of his children came of age, he sent them off to boarding school to seek a higher education. Before long Susan and her siblings became living examples that combining cultures works. Before long they joined their father in helping their people assimilate.
Susan like her siblings not only had family’s support, they each had their champions outside of their tribe too. Susan had influential women and organizations backing her. They used their influence to help her enter schools in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and aided her in receiving government help as well.
Warrior of the People, is more than a biography about a woman and Native American who overcame the odds stacked against her to become a doctor to her people, it also puts into context the struggle Native Americans faced and still face today. The author, Jose Starita, reveals success is just as possible in Susan’s day and it is today.