A Woman to Know: Zitkala-Ša
|Julia Carpenter||Mar 4, 2016|
There is no great, there is no small. — Zitkala-Ša
Zitkala ("Red Bird") wrote throughout the early 20th century on tribal rights, Native American identity, missionary-given names (her own was Gertrude Simmons-Bonnin), paganism and more. She wrote operas. She founded the National Council of American Indians in 1926. She collected stories in "Old Indian Legends," "American Indian Stories" and other stories.
But first, she documented her childhood. She wrote about school, and the religion of her family, and the moment when she was forever separated from her mother and put on a train East:
Wrapped in my heavy blanket, I walked with my mother to the carriage that was soon to take us to the iron horse. I was happy. I met my playmates, who were also wearing their best thick blankets. We showed one another our new beaded moccasins, and the width of the belts that girdled our new dresses. Soon we were being drawn rapidly away by the white man's horses. When I saw the lonely figure of my mother vanish in the distance, a sense of regret settled heavily upon me. I felt suddenly weak, as if I might fall limp to the ground. I was in the hands of strangers whom my mother did not fully trust. I no longer felt free to be myself, or to voice my own feelings. The tears trickled down my cheeks, and I buried my face in the folds of my blanket. Now the first step, parting me from my mother, was taken, and all my belated tears availed nothing.
Add to your reading list:
American Indian Stories, Legends and Other Classics (Zitkala-Ša)
The School Days of an Indian Girl (Zitkala-Ša)
Impressions of an Indian Childhood (Zitkala-Ša)
The Great Spirit (Zitkala-Ša)
A Warrior's Daughter (Zitkala-Ša)
Why I am a Pagan (Zitkala-Ša)
The Widespread Enigma of Blue-Star Woman (Zitkala-Ša)
American Indian Women: Telling Their Lives (Gretchen M. Bataille and Kathleen M. Sands)
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