Did you know that Zitkala-Sa was born today in 1876? She was a teacher, author, musician, and political activist. Zitkala-Sa was a Sioux Native American. Zitkala-Sa wrote about identity and the struggles of balance between the Native American heritage she was born with and the culture imposed on her by society. Zitkala-Sa worked to protect and share Native American culture. She collected and translated Native American stories into English, she also wrote and composed the first American Indian opera. She worked tirelessly to advocate for the rights and protection of Native Americans; for this she is considered one of the greatest Native American activists of the 20th century.
We hope that you learn to appreciate your own unique heritage. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.
Zitkala-Sa was also known by the anglicized name, Gertrude Simmons Bonnin.
Zitkala-Sa was born and lived on the Yankton Indian Reservation. When she was 8, she had to leave the reservation to attend school. Unfortunately, in addition to reading and writing, a large part of education also sought to erase Native American students’ religion, culture, language, appearance, and traditions.
Zitkala-Sa worked with William F. Hanson on The Sun Dance Opera. It was based on sacred Sioux rituals and Native American musical traditions. The work premiered in Utah in 1913. Later it was premiered in The Broadway Theater in New York City in 1938.
Zitkala-Sa was a co-founder of the National Council of American Indians in 1926.
Zitkala-Sa was also active in the movement for women’s rights.
Zitkala-Sa’s work exposed the continued exploitation of Native Americans it also helped Native Americans gain the right of US citizenship.
Zitkala-Sa is buried in Arlington National Cemetery under the name Gertrude Simmons Bonnin.