Eastman, Charles Alexander

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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.


Eastman, Charles A. Indian Boyhood. (1902, repr. New York: Dover, 1971). Full e-text available at: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/cgibin/browse-mixed?id=EasIndi&tag=public&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed
Eastman, Charles A. From the Deep Woods to Civilization. (1916, repr. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1977) Conversion to e-text availability is in progress
Copeland, Marion W. Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa). (Boise: Boise State University, 1978) (Boise State University Western Writers Series; 33)
Wilson, Raymond. Ohiyesa: Charles Eastman, Santee Sioux. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983)
Ruoff, A. LaVonne Brown. "Western American Indian Writers, 1854-1960." Available at: http://www.tcu.edu/depts/prs/amwest/html/wl1038.html
Giese, Paula. "Dr. Charles A. Eastman: Ohiyesa (Winner): Wahpeton Dakota." Available at: http://indy4.fdl.cc.mn.us/~isk/stories/authors/eastman.html
Anderson, Peter. Charles Eastman: Physician, Reformer and Native American Leader. (Chicago: Children's Press, 1992)


Native American and Alaskan Native, Inuit
19th Century
20th Century
Government, Politics, Civil Service, Public Administration
Medicine and Allied Professions
Ethnic or Religious Identity Confused or Concealed, Racism
Pre-school Years
Parent(s) in Prison or Labor Camp, Executed
War or Persecution
Uncles and Aunts, Parents' Uncles and Aunts
Temporary Care
Customary or Traditional Adoption, Informal and Extra-Legal Care
Parent(s) Died, Disappeared or Became Incapacitated
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