The First American Indian Female Dentist
Traverse City, MI

(231) 313-8407


  • Communication
  • Culture
  • Human Relations
  • Inspiration / Motivation
  • Practice Management

Jessica A. Rickert, DDS

A unique pathfinder, Jessica A. Rickert, DDS, inspires as she shares her personal journey to become the first female American Indian dentist in the USA. Dr. Rickert has a longstanding commitment to strengthen our community by advancing diversity in the dental profession.

Rejoice with Jessica A. Rickert, DDS and her triumphant path to become an accomplished dentist and a powerful role model for all youth. The circuitous route began in the 1820’s, when the white man arrived in S.W. Michigan. Her admirable American Indian heritage and culture is enthusiastically covered through the history of the Potawatomi and Ojibway. Sad and arduous was the Potawatomi Trail of Tears, having been forced to walk to Kansas. Her grandparents' trek back to Michigan is the definition of courage.

As the eldest in a family of 9, attending a small public school in the 1960's, Dr. Jessica A. Rickert excelled. She desired to attend the University of Michigan, but did not understand how this could happen. Through scholarships and perseverance, she arrived at U of M in 1968, often the only girl in her math and science classes. Accepted in the Dental School, 99% of the DDS students were white, privileged males. She did graduate in with a Doctor of Dentistry degree in 1975.

Blessed with a family who encouraged all members to excel through diligent work while giving to others, she could draw from many excellent examples in the Whitepigeon family. Attaining success in the dental profession opened many opportunities for her. Hers and her husband’s dreams came true, with their wonderful, remarkable family whose success will touch generations to come.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn the definition of courage and how greatness is measured
  • Re-affirm Dentistry as a noble career, creating beauty and health throughout history
  • Foster an inclusive, service-oriented culture for all dental professionals
  • Develop better dental care for all patients through valuable & durable contributions to all humankind
  • Celebrate all people and their talents, perspectives, experiences and cultures
  • Discover STEM’s outreach to American Indian/Alaskan Native students
  • Learn how the educational pipeline into the professions operates
  • Expect a better future through accurate history of Michigan American Indians and the Society of American Indian Dentists
  • Examine tribal dental health in the USA
  • Note demographic changes in dentistry; evidenced by the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame

Suggested Format: Keynote
Suggested Audience: Dentist and Team


Keynote at the annual Michigan Oral Health Coalition Conference.

CBS TV 9 & 1 -  Traverse City, MI - Dr. Rickert's Story as a Pathfinder

Dr. Rickert's Story as a Pathfinder:  CBS TV 9 & 10 - Traverse City, MI

Why choose Dr. Rickert?
  • Dr. Rickert has had the honor of speaking for state and national annual sessions, professional conferences, and educational groups including universities, tribes and women's groups for over 15 years.
  • Her published works are many, including the Journals of the Michigan Dental Association, Society of American Indian Dentists, Association of American Indian Physicians, American Association of Women Dentists, Arizona Dental Association, Dentistry Today Journal, the Prairie Band Potawatomi News and the Northern Michigan University Press.  Native News Online, values her as its health advisor, consultant and frequent columnist.
  • Dr. Rickert's presentations celebrate people and their talents, perspective, experiences and cultures, as evidenced in her personal history as a Potawatomi Indian.


Power of Role Models STEM Series developed by the University of Nebraska.


Dr. Rickert’s presentation at Kalamazoo Valley College was enthusiastically received. KVC’s Trice Batson & Dr. Rickert exhibit the traditional Potawatomi Black Ash baskets.