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American Indian stories - Zitkala

by Zitkala-Sa and Susan Rose Dominguez

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From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Jesse Larsen
Zitkala-sa, renamed Gertrude Simmons by Catholic missionaries, was one of the first Sioux women to write the stories and traditions of her people. The first set of stories in this collection is autobiographical. Zitkala-sa describes living in her mother's wigwam on the Yankton Reservation at the edge of the Missouri River where she is "as free as the wind that blew my hair, and no less spirited than a bounding deer." Until she is eight years old, Zitkala-sa's only fear is "that of intruding myself upon others." Then, despite her mother's objections, she is enticed by visions of endless apple trees and the excitement of riding on "the iron horse" and leaves her mother for school in the east. Although Zitkala-sa goes on to become a teacher, she never stops questioning "whether real life or long-lasting death lies beneath this semblance of [white] civilization." The second half of the book contains stories based on her family's tradition of oral history. The Trial Path describes the course of tribal justice after a murder. Tusee, A Warrior's Daughter, is the courageous and shrewd woman who risks everything for her husband-to-be. The son in The Sioux must kill twice to save his father from starvation. Written with elegant simplicity more than seventy years ago, Zitkala-sa's American Indian Stories remain a powerful plea for justice. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14.

Book Description
American Indian Stories, first published in 1921, is a collection of childhood stories, allegorical fiction, and an essay. One of the most famous Sioux writers and activists of the modern era, Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Bonnin) recalled legends and tales from oral tradition and used experiences from her life and community to educate others about the Yankton Sioux. Determined, controversial, and visionary, she creatively worked to bridge the gap between her own culture and mainstream American society and advocated for Native rights on a national level. Susan Rose Dominguez provides a new introduction to this edition.



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