Published July 24, 2016
“Medicine Woman” interweaves the lives of Native American women healers of today with the story of America’s first Native doctor, Susan La Flesche Picotte (1865-1915). Dr. Picotte studied medicine at a time when few women dared. She graduated first in her class and returned home to serve as doctor to her Omaha tribe. During this heartbreaking and violent time, she never gave up hope.
The reverberations from her shattered world continue today as Native Americans suffer from alarming rates of disease, suicide and mental illness. Like Dr. Picotte, these modern day medicine women from the Omaha, Lakota and Navajo tribes are fighting a war and sharing a confident, even joyful, approach to the work of healing.
This one-hour documentary will premiere in November on PBS.
Produced by Christine Lesiak and Princella P. RedCorn (Omaha), “Medicine Woman” demonstrates how Dr. Picotte’s fight for self-determination echoes down the years into the lives of today’s medicine women. They struggle, as she did, to serve their people, to raise their families, and to hold onto their tribal identities. How can they hope to mend the wounds of body and spirit that history has created? And what have they learned about new ways of healing that can help us all?
Actress Irene Bedard (Inupiat/Metis) is the voice of Dr. Picotte. Poet and musician Joy Harjo (Mvskoke) narrates “Medicine Woman.”