ERIC Number: ED371371
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1994-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
The Fruits of Literacy: Loss or Gain--Zitkala-Sa: Native American Author and Reformer.
Weidner, Heidemarie Z.
Zitkala-Sa, a 19th century Native American woman who won second place in an 1896 Midwestern oratorical contest, resembles many students who daily cross borders--geographical, economic, linguistic, and cultural--balancing on a tightrope of assured losses and uncertain gains. Known as Gertrude Simmons before and Gertrude Bonnin after her marriage, she was a well-known advocate of her people during the first four decades of the 20th century. To make sense of her feelings of alienation, Zitkala-Sa (Sioux for Red Bird) turned to the characters of her beloved tribal stories, in particular to Iktomi, the Sioux spider man, trickster, and wanderer whose metaphor she chose to anchor herself. After receiving a diploma from White's Manual Labor School in Wabash, Indiana, she disregarded her mother's instructions to return to the reservation and entered Earlham College, a Quaker School in Richmond, Indiana. "Side by Side," her second-place-winning oration, confronts her White audience with the "Indian problem" as viewed by an Indian. Her speech is a tour de force of rhetoric that balances "controlled rage" against White atrocities with the desire to convince America of the Indian's humanity. One moment of transformation in her life was in choosing her name for herself, a name which proclaims her independence and her cultural ties. Zitkala-Sa demonstrated the same mixture of self-reliance and connectedness in a second moment of resolution--a dream vision that demonstrates to her the need for her to spend her energies in work for the cause of Indian reform. (Contains 19 references.) (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Indiana