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Susie Walking Bear Yellowtail was the first American Indian graduate registered nurse, fully prepared to pursue her dream of dedicating her life to helping Native American peoples. Susie completed her formal education by training at the Franklin County Memorial Hospital in Northfield and then practicing at Boston City Hospital. One of Susie's most cherished distinctions was granted in 1978, when the American Indian Nurses Association named her "Grandmother of American Indian Nurses."
Thank you for this tip. It has been useful to encourage our Certified Nursing Assistants who are Native American to pursue nursing as a career.
A point of clarification: although Susie Yellowtail's life and career were exemplary and inspirational, she was not actually the first Native American RN. I do not know for sure who was, as there has not been enough research in the matter. I do know of 2 Native American sisters who predate Susie. They were Maude Sadoques and Elizabeth Sadoques Mason. Elizabeth Sadoques Mason was my grandmother and I have her RN certificate from 1919. Elizabeth and Maude were full-blooded Abenaki Indians from New Hampshire, both completing their nursing through St Mary's Free Hospital for Children in New York City. Maude became an Episcopalian nun in New York, while Elizabeth worked as a nurse right up until her retirement in the late 1950s or early 1960s. Elizabeth married and raised 2 children in addition to her nursing career. See Minority Nurse Magazine, Winter 2007/2008 issue.
Susie Walking Bear Yellowtail's life and story is inspiring. However, she was not actually the first American Indian graduate registered nurse. I know of 2 Native American RNs who graduated before Susie Walking Bear. They were sisters from Keene,New Hampshire and both graduated from St. Mary's Free Hospital for Children, Training School for Nurses, New York City, NY. One was my grandmother, Elizabeth Sadoques Mason who graduated in 1919 and the other was her sister, my Great-Aunt Maude Sadoques, who graduated a few years before my grandmother. Maude became Sister Benedicta of St. Mary's Convent in Peekskill, NY, where she remained throughout her lifetime. Elizabeth married and raised 2 children, while working as a registered nurse until her retirement in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The two sisters were full-blooded Abenaki Indians whose family settled in Keene, NH in 1880. I don't claim that they were the first two Native American RNs, only that they predate Susie Walking Bear Yellowtail.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|