Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Native American Biography: Fancis, Susan and Susette or Josett La Flesche: Omaha and Standing Bear: Ponca

Francis, Susan and Susette were siblings, children of Omaha chief Joseph La Flesche and Elizabeth Esau.  Francis was most noted as an anthropologist and as a lead in the efforts for Ponca Tribe recognition.  He helped Alice C. Fletcher with her book, "The Study of Omaha Music" and authored "Middle Five: Indian Boys at School.
His sister Susan became a medical doctor.  She treated everyone one the Omaha Reservation but was officially government physician to the Omaha Agency school.  Being too busy, her body started to break down.  However she did recover and eventually started a private practice in Bancroft, Nebraska.  By the time of her death, there was not a member of the Omaha Tribe she had not treated. She was also accepted as spokesperson for the tribe and represented them in the White world.
Her older sister was very involved in attempting to correct a social injustice.  The  Ponca had been displaced, when their reservation was given to the Sioux.  They were moved to Oklahoma Indian Territory.  The marched to the Omaha reservation, half starving, and without moccasins (they had eaten them) they were taken in by the Omaha.  Efforts were made by the La Flesche family for their restoration to their lands.
Standing Bear was chief of the Ponca.  His children died in the move.  He attempted to return them to traditional lands for burial.  The Indian agents kept returning them.  However the courts finally granted a writ of habeas corpus.  (Native Americans are people after all the court ruled.)  His family was allowed to stay, but the other Ponca still in Indian territory were not.

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