The Flight of Red Bird: The Life of Zitkala-Sa

by Doreen Rappaport

In 1884 eight-year-old Gertrude Bonnin was taken from her family on the Yankton Sioux... read more

In 1884 eight-year-old Gertrude Bonnin was taken from her family on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota and placed in an Indiana boarding school run by Quakers. Her experiences there were similar to those of many native boys and girls removed from family, language, and culture to attend government-run or private boarding schools. In most instances the children learned English, were taught a trade, and were immersed in Euro-American and Anglo- American values. Some returned to their reservations and families ashamed of who they were and what they had become. In adulthood some, like Gertrude, discovered they were caught for life between both cultures, unhappily belonging to neither. Gertrude changed her name to Zitkala-Sa, meaning "Red Bird" in Dakota. She died in 1938 in Washington, D.C., Aquestioning the worth of her life work." Rappaport has excerpted long passages originally written in English from Zitkala-Sa's memoir. Where there were gaps, Rappaport developed sections based on interviews with people who knew this activist and accounts by others to create what she calls an Aautobiographical biography." Titles of chapters about Zitkala-Sa's years on the Yankton Reservation are given in Dakota with translations into English. An afterword summarizes the outcomes of some of Zitkala-Sa's political activism. Lists of extensive sources, resources and attributions are included, as is a glossary, chronology, bibliography and index in this incomparable account. (Age 11-adult)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1997

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