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US Who Was Zitkala-Ša? Google Doodle Celebrates Indigenous American Writer and Activist

12:16  22 february  2021
12:16  22 february  2021 Source:   newsweek.com

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Zitkála - Šá (Lakota for Red Bird; February 22, 1876 – January 26, 1938), also known by her missionary-given and later married name Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, was a Yankton Dakota writer , editor

" Zitkala - Ša , whose name means Red Bird, also known as Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, was Yankton Sioux, a musician, writer , composer and activist who was born in the year of Little Bighorn. Capaldi and Pearce have taken three of the stories Zitkala - Ša wrote for the Atlantic Monthly, presumed to be autobiographical, and retold them with additional material. While the language has been somewhat modernized, it still sounds quite stilted and overwrought to contemporary ears, although it is very much in the heightened style of the time.

Zitkala-Ša, writer, musician, teacher, composer, and suffragist, is celebrated in today's Google Doodle on what would have been her 145th birthday. She was dedicated to protecting and celebrating her heritage through arts and activism, at a time when the U.S. government did not consider Indigenous Americans real people.

diagram: Zitkala-Ša is celebrated in today's Google Doodle, on what would have been her 145th birthday. © Chris Pappan/Google Doodle Zitkala-Ša is celebrated in today's Google Doodle, on what would have been her 145th birthday.

The Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota (Ihanktonwan Dakota Oyate or "People of the End Village") member is depicted in artwork by Chris Pappan, an artist of Osage, Kaw, Cheyenne River Sioux, and European heritage.

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Zitkala-Ša was born on the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota on February 22, 1876. Her name, Zitkala-Ša, is Lakota/Lakȟótiyapi for "Red Bird." When she was eight years old, Quaker missionaries took her and several other children to attend White's Indiana Manual Labor Institute, where she was given the name Gertrude Simmons.

At the missionary boarding school, Zitkala-Ša was forced to practice a religion she didn't believe in, cut her hair, and was not allowed to speak her Lakota/Lakȟótiyapi language. Thousands of Indigenous children went through similar experiences following the Civilization Fund Act of 1819, which funded missionaries and religious groups that forcibly assimilated Indigenous children at boarding schools.

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" Zitkala - Ša , whose name means Red Bird, also known as Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, was Yankton Sioux, a musician, writer , composer and activist who was born in the year of Little Bighorn. Capaldi and Pearce have taken three of the stories Zitkala - Ša wrote for the Atlantic Monthly, presumed to be autobiographical, and retold them with additional material. While the language has been somewhat modernized, it still sounds quite stilted and overwrought to contemporary ears, although it is very much in the heightened style of the time.

While at the school, Zitkala-Ša enjoyed learning to read, write, and play the violin, but resisted assimilation efforts. Zitkala-Ša would go on to advocate for Indigenous rights throughout her life.

Zitkala-Ša left the school and returned to the Yankton Reservation in 1887, but went back to the Institute three years later, feeling as though she did not fit in at the reservation following her experiences at the school.

Back at the institute, Zitkala-Ša continued learning piano and violin, which resulted in the school hiring her as a music teacher. She graduated in 1895, and when receiving her diploma, gave a speech about women's rights.

In 1901, Zitkala-Ša published an anthology of oral Dakota stories titled Old Indian Legends after returning home to the reservation. This book was one of the first to introduce traditional Indigenous American stories to a wider audience. As a musician, Zitkala-Ša wrote the texts and songs for The Sun Dance, which was the first Indigenous American opera and was based on a sacred Sioux ceremony.

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Richard Oakes was a Native American activist best known for leading the occupation of the disused Alcatraz prison, which was credited with changing the narrative around indigenous peoples' rights. He was shot and killed in 1972 but would have turned 75 today, and a Google Doodle has The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act was passed in 1975, which allowed federal agencies to work with recognised Native American tribes. After leaving Alcatraz, Oakes continued his activism and was frequently arrested and suffered violence. He was shot and killed after an argument with a

Zitkala - Sa wrestled with the conflicting influences of American Indian and white culture throughout her life. I am writing about American Indian Stories and Old Indian Legends together because I read them together. Discussions can be found here and here. As a child, Zitkala - Sa remembers, she and her playmates would beg for stories of Iktomi. These tales are amusing and didactic, freighted with moral and spiritual instruction.


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In addition, Zitkala-Ša was an activist for Indigenous and women's rights, and co-founded and served as the first president of the National Council of American Indians in 1926. Her work was key in the passage of legislation including the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, which granted citizenship to Indigenous people born in the U.S., and the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, which promoted the self-governance of Indigenous tribes.

Her Google Doodle says: "Happy Birthday, Zitkala-Ša, and thank you for your efforts to protect and celebrate Indigenous culture for generations to come."

Elements of Zitkala-Ša's life are apparent in today's Google Doodle, as artist Chris Pappan explains: "Her Lakota name translates as 'Red Bird,' she wrote an opera relating to the Sun Dance, and she was an accomplished musician—all reflected within the Doodle.

"She also witnessed great upheaval and change throughout her life, as symbolized by the tipis. The lettering for 'Google' is based on a beadwork design from one of her traditional dresses."

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Pappan also explained why the Google Doodle was important to him personally: "My Grandmother was Lakota, so it was an honor to be able to help bring more recognition to another strong Lakota woman.

"I was honored to bring recognition to our people and glad that Google is reaching out to Indigenous Native American artists for related content."

Pappan also told Google what he hopes viewers take from the Doodle: "I hope people realize that we can—and need to—speak for ourselves. The narrative of Native American history has been intentionally distorted for too long."

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