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Dakota West Books

Red Bird, Red Power

Red Bird, Red Power

Red Bird, Red Power tells the story of one of the most influential--and controversial--American Indian activists of the twentieth century. Zitkala-Sa (1876-1938), also known as Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, was a highly gifted writer, editor, and musician who dedicated her life to achieving justice for Native peoples. Here, Tadeusz Lewandowski offers the first full-scale biography of the woman whose passionate commitment to improving the lives of her people propelled her to the forefront of Progressive-era reform movements.

Zitkala-Sa's story begins on the Dakota plains, where she was born to a Yankton Sioux mother and a a white father. She left home at age eight to attend a Quaker boarding school. By her early twenties, Zitkala-S, whose name translates as "Red Bird," was the toast of East Coast literary society. Her short stories for the Atlantic Monthly are, to this day, the focus of scholarly analysis and debate.

Yet, as Lewandowski demonstrates, Zitkala-Sa's successes could not fill the void of her lost cultural heritage. In 1926, she founded the National Council of American Indians with the aim of redressing American Indian grievances. In Lewandowski's sensitive interpretation, Zitkala-Sa emerges as a forerunner of the Red Power movement and an important agent of change. 

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