Eastman (his maternal grandfather's surname) was born Ohiyesa, the last of five children. His mother died soon after he was born. In 1862, after the Minnesota Sioux uprising he escaped with his uncle and grandmother into Manitoba, to avoid white reprisals. His father, Many Lightnings, had been imprisoned by the whites for his participation in the uprising (the family believed he had been hanged
the next 11 years Ohiyesa was kept isolated from white contact, until his now-Europeanized father unexpectedly returned, had him baptized, renamed him Charles Alexander Eastman, and sent him to school in the Dakota Territory. For the next 17 years he attended school and college, eventually graduating from Boston University Medical School.
He became a physician on the Pine Ridge reservation in 1890, and was the only doctor available to the survivors of the Wounded Knee massacre. He married a white woman, but after a daughter died in 1921 they separated. His medical practice in St. Paul was unsuccessful (due mainly to racial harassment from the police and white doctors) after he was fired from the Pine Ridge post in 1892 over a policy dispute, but he spent the next 20 years in various jobs, often in conflict with white authority because of his sympathies with his Native American patients. He moved to Ontario with his son and died after a tipi he was living in caught fire.
He wrote a number of books, including autobiography, Native American studies and children's books.
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