Feb 22, 2017

February 22: Rise of Red Bird And Native American Rights

On February  22nd in 1876 native American writer, activist, educator, and musician Zitkala-Sa (Red Bird) was born on the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

At a young age Quaker missionaries came to the Yankton Reservation and took several children to the White's Manual Labor Institute, a boarding school in Wabash, Indiana including Zitkala-Sa.
After graduation she attended Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana before becoming a teacher herself. Though she valued education she felt isolated in a white/european culture, and felt her identity was stripped away by the Quaker missionaries. She was further dismayed when returning to Yankton Reservation to find many of native Sioux traditions had fallen away and the reservation conforming to the dominant white culture.

Zitkala-Sa began archiving Native American customs and legends and was first published in 1900 when she published legends collected from Native American culture, as well as autobiographical narratives. She also wrote columns for the New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly, as well as writing the first Native American Opera.

in 1926 she and her husband founded the National Council of American Indians, dedicated to the cause of uniting the tribes throughout the U.S. in the cause of gaining full citizenship rights and served as it's president until her death in 1938.

Photo: Zitkala-Sa (1901) Public Domain photograph by Joseph Keiley