In 1975 Jessica Rickert, Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, DDS, became the first recognized American Indian woman dentist. When this descendent of Chief Whitepigeon attended the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in the early 1970s, she was the only American Indian in a class of about 150 students. This was also a time when there were very few female dentists or female dental students.
In 2005 Rickert received the American Dental Association’s 2005 Access Recognition Award for leadership in helping people in need gain access to dental care. In particular, she was nominated for her work educating American Indians on dental care and encouraging them to pursue careers in the field. In 2009 she was honored for her work by being inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame