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Gertrude Simmons Bonnin (February 22, 1876 - January 26, 1938), better known by her pen name, Zitkala-Sa, was a Native American writer, editor, musician, teacher and political activist. She was born and raised on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota by her mother, Ellen Simmons, whose Yankton-Nakota name was Tate Iyohiwin (Every Wind or Reaches for the Wind). Zitkala-Sa lived a traditional lifestyle until the age of eight when she left her reservation to attend Whites Manual Labor Institute, a Quaker mission school in Wabash, Indiana. She went on to study for a time at Earlham College in Indiana and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. A considerable talent, Bonnin co-composed the first American Indian grand opera, The Sun Dance (composed in romantic style based on Ute and Sioux themes), in 1913. After working as a teacher at Carlisle Indian Industrial School, she moved to Boston and began publishing short stories and autobiographical vignettes. Her autobiographical writings were serialized in Atlantic Monthly from January to March of 1900 and, later, published in a collection called American Indian Stories in 1921. Her first book, Old Indian Legends, is a collection of folktales that she gathered during her visits home to the Yankton Reservation. Much of early scholarship on her life comes from American Indian Stories and, more recently, from Doreen Rappaport's biography titled The Flight of Red Bird. For other reliable scholarship, see the work of P. Jane Hafen.
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