Zitkála-Šá (1876–1938) pronounced zitkála-ša, which translates to “Red Bird” also known by the missionary-given name Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, was a Sioux (Yankton Dakota) writer, editor, musician, teacher and political activist. She wrote several works chronicling her youthful struggles with identity and pulls between the majority culture and her Native American heritage. Her later books in English were among the first works to bring traditional Native American stories to a widespread white readership.
Working with American William F. Hanson, Zitkala-Ša wrote the libretto and songs for The Sun Dance Opera, (1913), the first American Indian opera. (It was composed in romantic style based on Sioux and Ute themes.)
She was a co-founder of the National Council of American Indians in 1926 to lobby for rights to United States citizenship and civil rights. Zitkala-Ša served as its president until her death in 1938. Her life has been recorded in the biography Red Bird, Red Power: The Life and Legacy of Zitkála-Šá (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016).
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