Susette La Flesche, an Omaha, campaigned tirelessly for Native American rights, becoming the first Native American lecturer and the first published Native American artist and writer.
Daughter of Chief Joseph La Flesche, Chief of the Omahas, La Flesche was a teacher on her reservation after completing her education at the Elizabeth Institute in New Jersey. She generated national attention in 1879 when she accompanied newspaperman Thomas Tibbles of the Omaha Herald on a lecture tour to publicize wrongs against the Ponca Indians. The tribe had been brutally displaced and relocated to unfamiliar grounds, and more than a third had died.
La Flesche, going by the English translation of her Native American name Inshta Theumba (“Bright Eyes”), was able to reach influential Easterners and brought about passage of the Dawes Act in 1887, at the time considered a progressive law of benefit to the tribes. La
Flesche married Tibbles in 1881 and continued to tour and lecture in America and England. She also became a writer, contributing regularly to a variety of magazines and newspapers. She anonymously edited Ploughed Under, The Story of an Indian Chief.