The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has awarded the State of Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs a $50,000 grant toward the restoration of the Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte Center. The award letter explains, “Sharing is fundamental to our Dakota culture, and we are happy to make donations that improve the lives of others across the country.”
Established by Dr. Picotte, in 1913 the center served as a hospital and community center through 1940. As the first Native American to receive a medical license, Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte dedicated her professional life to serving her Omaha people and those residing in and around northeastern Nebraska. The community center, which was the first non-federally funded hospital to be established on a reservation, was Dr. Picotte’s final undertaking. It stands as a monument to her legacy of care and compassion. Hence, it is registered as a National Historic Landmark.
Unfortunately, the center has fallen into severe disrepair. It was placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of 11 most endangered historic places in the U.S. Currently, the project priority is to establish a building restoration plan that focuses first on securing the structural integrity of the building. The generous gift from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community will go toward fulfilling that plan.
The aim of the project is to establish a center that has a local and national presence. The center will include a state of the art museum dedicated to Dr. Picotte’s life and work, a gallery displaying works of contemporary Native American artists, and provide a variety of flexible spaces designed to maximize the usefulness of the space to meet public interest and needs. In this way the center will honor once again serve the people of northeastern Nebraska and those who pass through.
4.09.19 – Adam R. Thompson