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Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Sa, Native American Author, Musician, and Activist



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Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Sa, Native American Author, Musician, and Activist
Adapted by Gina Capaldi and Q.L. Pearce
Illustrated by Gina Capaldi
Ages 8 and up

"I remember the day I lost my spirit." So begins the story of Gertrude Simmons, also known as Zitkala-Sa, which means Red Bird. Born in 1876 on the Yankton Sioux reservation in South Dakota, Zitkala-Sa willingly left her home at age eight to go to a boarding school in Indiana. She soon found herself caught between two worlds - white and Native American.

Zitkala-Sa found joy in music classes. "My wounded spirit soared like a bird as I practiced the piano and violin," she wrote. Her talent grew, and when she graduated, she became a music teacher, composer, and performer.

She could also "sing" to help her people by writing stories and giving speeches. As an adult, she worked as an activist for Native American rights, seeking to build a bridge between the cultures.

The coauthors have written of Zitkala-Sa by weaving together pieces from her own stories. The artist's acrylic illustrations and collages of photos and primary source documents round out the vivid portrait of Zitkala-Sa.  


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