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Omaha Indian Chiefs and Leaders

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Bright Eyes. True name, Susette La Flesche. The eldest child of Eshtamaza, or Joseph La Flesche, a former head-chief of the Omaha. She was born in Nebraska about 1850 and attended the Presbyterian mission school on the Omaha res. Through the interest of one of her teachers, Susette was sent to a private school in Elizabeth, N. J., where she made rapid progress in her studies. After her return home she taught in a Government day school on the Omaha res. and exercised a stimulating influence on the young people of the tribe. In 1877-78 the Ponca were forcibly removed to Indian Territory from their home on Niobrara r., S. Dak. Not long afterward Susette accompanied her father to Indian Territory, where he went to render such help as he could to his sick and dying relatives among the Ponca. The heroic determination of the Ponca chief, Standing Bear, to lead his band back to their northern home; their sufferings during their march of more than 600 m.; his arrest and imprisonment; and, after a sharp legal struggle, his release by habeas corpus, in accordance with Judge Dundy’s decision that “an Indian is a person” (U. S. v Crook, 5 Dillon, 453), led to steps being taken by a committee of citizens to bring the matter of Indian removals before the public. Arrangements were made to have Standing Bear, accompanied by Susette La Flesche and her brother, visit the principal cities of the United States under the direction of Mr T. H. Tibbies, and tell the story of the Ponca removal. The name “Bright Eyes” was given Susette, and under that cognomen she entered upon her public work. Her clear exposition of the case, her eloquent appeals for humanity toward her race, her grace and dignity of diction and bearing aroused the interest of the thousands who listened to her. As a result, a request was urged on the Government that there be no more removals of tribes, and this request has been respected when practicable. In 1881 Bright Eyes married Mr T. H. Tibbies. Later she and her husband visited England and Scotland, where she made a number of addresses. After her return to this country she lived in Lincoln, Neb., and maintained activity with her pen until her death in 1902. (A. C. F.)

 

Indian Tribes North of MexicoIndian Bands, Gens, & Clans

This site includes some historical materials that may imply negative stereotypes reflecting the culture or language of a particular period or place. These items are presented as part of the historical record and should not be interpreted to mean that the WebMasters in any way endorse the stereotypes implied .

Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, Frederick Webb Hodge, 1906

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