Author Nancy Palker to speak in St. Johnsville

ST. JOHNSVILLE — Nancy Palker, author of “Magic and Tragic Rosebud,” a memoir of her experiences as a nurse on South Dakota’s Rosebud Sioux reservation in 1973 will speak on Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Margaret Reaney Memorial Library, 19 Kingsbury Ave.

Accepting her first nursing job with the U.S. Public Health Service, Palker finds herself immersed in a culture very different from her own, according to a news release. Hear the drums and flutes and learn with her of the rich Lakota Sioux traditions.

“Magic and Tragic Rosebud” recounts the days of civil unrest punctuated by kidnapping, death threats, and FBI shootouts. With characters who jump out hospital windows, drive cars without motors, and jiggle the plug to power the hospital, “Magic and Tragic Rosebud” ultimately celebrates lasting friendships and the resilience of the human spirit.

In the introduction to “Magic and Tragic Rosebud,” Palker writes, “I consider it my privilege to share respectfully my perceptions of the Rosebud Brule Sioux/Lakota people, who have become very important to me. I freely admit that I was completely unaware and unprepared for the Rosebud experience.

“When I learned where we were going, I did do some reading. The orientation pamphlet sent to me by the Indian Health Service did not begin to tell the real story.”

“Even while still working at the Indian Health Service hospital on the Sioux reservation in Rosebud, the staff frequently talked about sharing the remarkable stories of our Rosebud experience in 1973 to 1974. For fresh college graduates embarking on nursing careers in the context of a different culture, it was a big adventure. The backdrop of the American civil rights movement added to the drama and richness of these times.”

Palker retired from nursing and lives in Maryland with her husband and nearby family. Her career spanned more than 45 years in health care as an aide, registered nurse and nurse practitioner in gerontology. She organized nursing groups and successfully lobbied for changes in health care legislation and regulation in several states. She has presented her research at national and local events and has taught health topics to professional and senior groups. She continues to advocate for improvements in Rosebud’s health care system.

He visit to the library has been facilitated by area family nurse practitioner Judy Kelly.

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