Gertrude Bonnin was the third child of Ellen Tate 'I yohiwin Simmons, a full-blood Yankton Sioux. Born in 1876 on a Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and known as Zitkala-Sa (Red Bird) Age 8 she was determined to learn the white man’s ways
raised in a tipi on the Missouri River until she was 12 when she went to a Quaker missionary school for Indians (White's Manual Institute) in Wabash, Indiana. Though her mother was reluctant to let her go to the boarding school she herself had attended when young, she wanted to ensure her daughter's ability to fend for herself later in life among an increasing number of “palefaces”
White’s Manual Institute aimed to assimilate the Indians
Four years later, Zitkala-Sa re-entered school, graduated on to Earlham College to become a teacher Then she became a student at Boston Conservatory and went to Paris in 1900 with Carlisle Indian Industrial School as violin soloist for the Paris Exposition She then started to increasingly devote herself to her people's cause and to overcoming her own cultural alienation through her fiction
Old Indian Legends: "I have tried to transplant the native spirit of these tales--root and all--into the English language, since America in the last few centuries has acquired a new tongue." She realized the need to ground political rights in a recovered cultural identity by revitalizing oral traditions, evident in the publication of several stories Later, Bonnin taught at Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, founded by Colonel Richard Pratt in 1879 to "save" Indians from white abuse and destruction by assimilating them and teaching them a trade She began to publicly to express her estrangement from both cultures and her resentment over the treatment of her people by state and church She became an earnest bridge builder between cultures, using language as a tool to shape an identity encompassing both cultures. Zitkala-Sa's activist...