Great Plains Book of the Month

Each month the Center for Great Plains Studies features one book as its "Great Plains Book of the Month." We carefully choose books that are accessible and on topics of interest and importance for our region. They may be on any subject, of any genre, published within the last couple of years; occasionally we may feature a book published by or written at the Center. Mainly we want to bring attention to what we consider exceptional works both to learn from and enjoy.


May Book of the Month

A Warrior of the People: How Susan La Flesche Overcame Racial and Gender Inequality to Become America's First Indian Doctor

Joe Starita

Details: Biography; American Indians; women

Publisher: St. Martin's Press (2016) 

In the spring of 1889, Susan La Flesche Picotte received her medical degree―becoming the first American Indian doctor in U.S. history. She earned her degree 31 years before women could vote and 35 years before American Indians were recognized as citizens in their own country. Dr. Picotte became the physician to her tribe, the Omaha (U-Mo’n-Ho’n), meaning she was responsible for 1,244 patients scattered across 1,350 square miles of land. Joe Starita's A Warrior of the People is the biography of Susan La Flesche Picotte’s life and dedication to public health, and provides vivid detail on her numerous accomplishments. Joe Starita holds an endowed professorship at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communication, and is also the author of "I am a Man”: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice. It should be noted that the author will donate all royalties from this book to a college scholarship fund he has established for Native American high school graduates.

"In a literary landscape awash in portraits of Native Peoples from male perspectives ―from Custer to Sitting Bull, from Comanche Warriors to Buffalo Soldiers―this extraordinary story offers something else: What was it like to be an Omaha & Ponca woman in the late-1800s, navigating the collision between Manifest Destiny and Native nations and cultures?" 

— Dr. Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne & Hodulgee Muscogee), The Morning Star Institute

Warrior of the People

Past Great Plains Books of the Month:

American Serengeti: The Last Big Animals of the Great Plains (Dan Flores)

A Chorus of Cranes: The Cranes of North America and the World (Paul Johnsgard)

Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930 (Karen Hansen)

Wild Again: The Struggle to Save the Black-Footed Ferret (David Jachowski)