Native Spirit: Woman doctor makes mark on history

ONEIDA, Wis. -

She was one of the first Native American women to become a doctor, and she was determined to leave her mark on history.

"It just doesn't leave me, the complexity of such a dynimo of a person. A sort of a Mother Theresa and yet a grandmother,” said her granddaughter, Carol Smart.

Doctor Rosa Minoka-Hill was one of only a few Native American women to accomplish the big goal. She spent most of her life living on the Oneida reservation in Northeast Wisconsin, and although she was half Mohawk, she still helped anybody she could.

"I was just amazed at everything she did with the resources that she had and the trials and tribulations that she had, financially and with her family and some of the tragedies she experienced,” said biographer, Betsy Foley.

Doctor Hill was left to raise several children by herself after her husband's death, but she still found time to give vaccines and deliver babies. Stories her granddaughter still shares today.

"I trudged behind her while she carried the medical bag over gravel roads. She had some pretty serious heart conditions at that time and we would sit in the ditch for her to rest,” Smart said.

Smart has spent close to 25 years putting on plays about her grandmother, and sharing her most important moments.

"There's so much there, that it's always interesting to go back and read some more of those things,” Foley said.

The story isn't over yet. A memorial to doctor hill sits in the Oneida nation, and a school in green bay is named in her honor. Smart says it was her life goal to share the story.

"Rarely, rarely do you or do I see a story where people really overcome tremendous personal challenges. That's pretty sad,” Smart said.

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