Jul 18, 2012

Wednesday Women- Gertrude Simmons Bonnin


She was also known as Zitkala Sa ( Red Bird) A Native American political activist, author, editor, teacher, musician... Born in February 22, 1876 on the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota. she was born to a Sioux mother & European American father who abandoned them while she was very young. She went to a Quaker school, the White's Manual Labor Institute in Wabash, Indiana, after living a carefree life on the reservation...It was the experiences here of having her Indian identity stripped that she wrote about...She was dismissed in 1901 from Harper's monthly for writing an article about this forced assimilation....

She only continued at the school to further her education studying the piano & violin..In 1902, she married a mixed race Nakota man Captian Raymond Bonnin. A union which produced their only child, a son, Ohiya, born in 1903...

She attended Earlham College after recieving a scholarship in 1895. While there she translated Native American legends into Latin then English for children to read. Unfortunately she had to leave college in 1897 due to ill health...
She played violin with the New England conservatory of Music in Boston from 1897 to 1899...
She taught music to children at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in 1899 where she began her political activism...


She also began writing her articles for the Atlantic Monthly as well as Harper's monthly which she used as a voice for her activism writing about the plight of the Indian..

The Atlantic Monthly in 1900 published serialized stories of hers of the Indian experience such as Impressions of an Indian Childhood, The School Days of an Indian Girl, and An Indian Teacher Among Indians 
She wrote the first Native American opera...It was co-composed with William F Hanson called  The Sun Dance...based on Ute and Sioux themes, which premiered in 1913

She was also an active member of the Society of American Indians, which published American Indian Magazine, of which she was editor & contributor from 1918 -1919. It was here she wrote more explicitly about the corruption & injustice towards the Native Americans, as well as avocating & perserving their traditons..


Her activism led to the founding of the  National Council of American Indians in 1926 which lobbied on their behalf ...She was president until her death in 1938 at the age of 61. She is buried in Arlington Cemetery next to her husband..


In her autobiography, The Flight of Red Bird, she stated:
“Perhaps my Indian nature is the moaning wind which stirs them [schoolteachers] now for their present record. But, however tempestuous this is within me, it comes out as the low voice of a curiously colored seashell, which is only for those ears that are bent with compassion to hear it."



Both videos are well worth watching...
Just remember to turn off my player
 on the sidebar...


Links:



More articles at this link....

I hope you enjoyed this story of this amazing woman & the bravery she displayed in a time when speaking out as a woman much less a Native American woman was, in my opinion, dangerous... I found her photographs  to show such sadness yet a strong determination in her character...I encourage you to read more about her & give her your ear of compassion....

5 comments:

the wild magnolia said...

She is a show stopper, that is certain.

We are side tripping over to Salinas, Kansas, today. When we return and I settle down after supper, I will follow your like.

I am excited to learn of the courageous and gifted woman and look forward to a relationship of words.

Thank you for sharing. I too, see the sadness in her eyes, and feel her strength.

Lady of the Woods said...

This is amazing how a woman can accomplish so much, and a man who goes to war to kill others is called a hero. Thanks for making me aware of her, it is glaringly obvious how such women are not widely known.

☮Bohemian Mamaw☮ said...

wonderful story. thanks for sharing. american indians have been part of my core interests since i was a young child and that interest has never faded.

Gayle said...

There is a TRUE hero/activist.

I love this series you are doing.

PaleMoonGypsy said...

Beautiful post.

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