(Native American lecturer, writer and artist from the Omaha tribe in Nebraska)
Susette La Flesche was born on the Omaha reservation in 1854, the very same year that the Omaha gave up their Nebraska hunting grounds. She was the eldest daughter of Joseph La Flesche, the last recognized chief of the Omaha. She attended a Presbyterian school for an English language education and then, after she expressed a desire to further her education, was sent to the Elizabeth Institute for Young Ladies, a private school in Elizabeth, New Jersey where she became known for her writing ability. After completing her schooling, she returned to the Omaha reservation where she taught classes at a government school for several years.
It was then that Susette became involved in the struggle for justice for her people by taking up the cause of the Ponca people whose lands had been taken away resulting in the loss of life. Accompanied by her brother, Francis, and their chief, Standing Bear, Susette began touring the East Coast lecturing on the unfairness of this action. Her presence on the stage won her many friends and helped in the outcome of the Standing Bear trial in Omaha; in fact, her fiery speeches eventually resulted in the Dawes General Allotment Act to be passed in 1887. It was after the trial that Susette became known as "Bright Eyes"
She had been joined in her crusade by Thomas H. Tibbles, a writer for the Omaha World Herald, and in 1882 they were married and settled down together on the Omaha reservation. They did, however, continue with their lecture tours and in 1886, they traveled to England and Scotland on a ten month tour. Here, Bright Eyes was well-received by both nobility and literary circles. In 1890, they returned to Omaha, and Tibbles went back to work for the Omaha Herald.
A gifted writer and artist, Bright Eyes was the first Native American to be published in the commercial press when her "An Indian Woman's Letter" was published. Then, with Fannie Reed Griffen, she co-authored a book, "Oo-ma-ha Ta-wa-tha" in 1898 and illustrated it. Her art work appeared in several books. And, she continued to advocate for Indian concerns before government committees. In 1902, she and Thomas moved to Bancroft to live a month the Omaha. Bright Eyes died there on May 26, 1903 at her home. She was only 49 years old.
She was eulogized in the United States Senate and is remembered as the first woman to speak out for the cause of Native Americans. She was inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame 1983.