American Indian Stories (Modern Library Torchbearers) (Paperback)
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A groundbreaking Dakota author and activist chronicles her refusal to assimilate into nineteenth-century white society and her mission to preserve her culture—with an introduction by Layli Long Soldier, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award for Whereas
Bright and carefree, Zitkála-Šá grows up on the Yankton Sioux reservation in South Dakota with her mother until Quaker missionaries arrive, offering the reservation’s children a free education. The catch: They must leave their parents behind and travel to Indiana. Curious about the world beyond the reservation, Zitkála-Šá begs her mother to let her go—and her mother, aware of the advantages that an education offers, reluctantly agrees.
But the missionary school is not the adventure that Zitkála-Šá expected: The school is a strict one, her long hair is cut short, and only English is spoken. She encounters racism and ridicule. Slowly, Zitkála-Šá adapts to her environment—excelling at her studies, winning prizes for essay-writing and oration. But the price of success is estrangement from her cultural roots—and is it one she is willing to pay?
Combining Zitkála-Šá’s childhood memories, her short stories, and her poetry, American Indian Stories is the origin story of an activist in the making, a remarkable woman whose extraordinary career deserves wider recognition.
The Modern Library Torchbearers series features women who wrote on their own terms, with boldness, creativity, and a spirit of resistance.
About the Author
Zitkála-Šá (1876–1936) was a member of the Yankton Dakota (also known as Sioux) tribe. An accomplished violinist, writer, and politician, she co-founded the National Council of American Indians, lobbied Congress to pass the Indian Citizenship Act, and wrote articles for The Atlantic and Harper’s, as well as two books and an opera.