Author recounts the history of the first Native American nursing school, Ganado Mission

Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2022 - 12:10pm
Updated: Monday, October 10, 2022 - 1:46pm
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In the late 19th century, when most Navajo children were being forcibly taken from their homes and educated in government-run boarding schools rife with abuse, one place on the reservation did things differently: Ganado Mission. There, a Presbyterian doctor named Clarence Salsbury took a different approach and persuaded local parents to allow them to educate their daughters as nurses.

Evangelism was still the goal, but Salsbury respected the Navajo medicine men and hoped to bridge the gap between their ways and modern, Western medicine.

The complicated history is rigorously documented in Jim Kristofic’s book, "Medicine Women: The Story of the First Native American Nursing School." He’ll be giving a talk about it March 30 as part of the State of Arizona Research Library’s Arizona Author series. Kristofic has written several books about the Navajo people because he grew up on the Navajo Nation.

The Show spoke with him to learn more about the book and the purpose of the Ganado Mission from the beginning.

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