Taken from her family on the Yankton Sioux Reservation at the age of eight and sent to a school far from home, Zitkala-Sa (Red Bird) is forced to become “civilized”–to give up her moccasins, her long hair, and her language, and to renounce her Sioux heritage. As an adult, Zitkala-Sa devoted her life to fighting for justice for all Native Americans. Rappaport creates this powerful and memorable life, alternating Zitkala-Sa’s words in her her letters, poems, diaries and retellings of her people’s legends. Red Bird’s determination and commitment will inspire anyone who has ever dreamed of making a difference.
American Bookseller “Pick of the Lists”
NCSS-CBC Notable Children’s Trade book in the Field of Social Studies
Carter G. Woodson Honor Book
“In this moving work, Rappaport adroitly recreates the life of a Native American woman born in 1876 on the Yankton Reservation in South Dakota who was forced to give up her cultural heritage and become “civilized”–the consequence of which was her lifelong activism. An introduction explains how Rappaport assembled the material for her `autobiographical biography,” and the changes she made, based on her research. No matter how the book is categorized, readers will relish Zitkala-Sa’s upholding of the warrior tradition with the “new weapons learned from her enemy–her pen, the English language, and her organizational persistence.” Kirkus Reviews
“This well-documented, uniquely presented book, illustrated with black-and-white photographs, should strike a chord among adolescents establishing their own identities.” School Library Journal.
“A remarkable story. Red Bird’s own words bring her anguish and confusion to life. Rappaport’s account of the contradictions and complex issues that Redbird faced in her life will have great interest for young people studying American Indians.” Booklist.
See photographs of Zitkala-Sa at various times in her life.
Follow Zitkala-Sa’s courtship and correspondence with Carlos Montezuma.
Letters of Zitkala-Sa to Carlos Montezuma, Part 2, 1901-1913
Learn more about the Carlisle Indian School by reading letters and comments by some of its students.
Carlisle Indian School History
(Thank you Barbara Landis, a superb historian)
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