Zitkala-SĂ (Gertrude Simmons Bonnin) Biography
(1876–1938), (Gertrude Simmons Bonnin), Impressions of an Indian Childhood, Old Indian Stories, American Indian Stories
Native American Sioux writer and reformer, born on the Yankton Sioux reservation in South Dakota, educated at a Quaker missionary school for American Indians in Wabash, Indiana. She is best known for her powerful autobiography, Impressions of an Indian Childhood (1900), which represents in a richly symbolic style the suffering and alienation of Native Americans who abandoned their tribal culture for a Western, Christian lifestyle that they found ultimately impoverished. Zitkala-Să uses nature as a metaphor to describe her experience of leaving a secure Sioux childhood and losing her tribal identity: ‘I was shorn of my branches, which had waved in sympathy and love for home and friends. Now a cold bare pole I seemed to be, planted in a strange earth.’ Her other publications include collections of autobiography, fiction, and non-fiction, Old Indian Stories (1901) and American Indian Stories (1921). She was an accomplished musician, and her opera Sun Dance (with Willy Hanson; 1902) received national recognition. Zitkala-Să was active in the cause of Indian civil rights through organizations like the Society of American Indians, and the National Council for American Indians which she founded in 1926.