Susette La Flesche

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Susette LaFlesche Tibbles in 1879

Susette La Flesche, later Susette LaFlesche Tibbles and also called Inshata Theumba, meaning "Bright Eyes" (1854–1903), was a well-known Native American writer, lecturer, interpreter, and artist of the Omaha tribe in Nebraska. La Flesche was a progressive and a spokesperson for Native American rights.


  • The legislation of the government has been directed rather to the protection of the rights of money and property than to the best good of the citizen.
  • A struggle for existence is not a decent living. A man or woman or child may die of starvation in a city teeming with plenty. Only human life is concerned.
  • Peaceful revolutions are slow but sure. It takes time to leaven a great unwieldy mass like this nation with the leavening ideas of justice and liberty, but the evolution is all the more certain in its results because it is so slow.

"The Plight of the Ponca Indians" (1879)[edit]

Caption from Outspoken Women: Speeches by American Women Reformers, 1635-1935: The following speech was delivered in Faneuil Hall in Boston on November 25, 1879. It was printed the following day in the Boston Daily Advertiser (November 26, 1879), p. 4.

  • It crushed our hearts when we saw a little handful of poor, ignorant, helpless, but peaceful people, such as the Poncas were, oppressed by a mighty nation, a nation so powerful that it could well have afforded to show justice and humanity if it only would. It was so hard to feel how powerless we were to help those we loved so dearly when we saw our relatives forced from their homes and compelled to go to a strange country at the point of the bayonet.
  • The whole Ponca tribe were rapidly advancing in civilization; cultivated their farms, and their schoolhouses and churches were well filled, when suddenly they were informed that the government required their removal to Indian Territory.
  • The tribe has been robbed of thousands of dollars' worth of property, and the government shows no disposition to return what belongs to them.
  • It seems to us sometimes that the government treats us with less consideration than it does even the dogs.
  • For the past hundred years the Indians have had none to tell the story of their wrongs. If a white man did an injury to an Indian he had to suffer in silence, or being exasperated into revenge, the act of revenge has been spread abroad through the newspapers of the land as a causeless act, perpetrated on the whites just because the Indian delighted in being savage. It is because I know that a majority of the whites have not known of the cruelty practiced by the "Indian ring" on a handful of oppressed, helpless and conquered people, that I have the courage and confidence to appeal to the people of the United States.
  • We are human beings; God made us as well as you
  • So many seem to think that Indians fight because they delight in being savage and are bloodthirsty.
  • Another time a man of our tribe went to a settlement about ten miles distant from our reserve to sell potatoes. While he stood sorting them out two young men came along.-they were white men, and one of them had just arrived from the East; he said to his companion, "I should like to shoot that Indian, just to say that I had shot one." His companion badgered him to do it. He raised his revolver and shot him.
  • For wrongs like these we have no redress whatever. We have no protection from the law.
  • The people who were once owners of this soil ask you for their liberty, and law is liberty.

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