Famous South Dakotans: Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, activist

"A woman born on the Yankton Indian Reservation became a writer, editor, musician, teacher and political activist.

WHO: Zitkala-Sa (Red Bird in Dakota), also known as Gertrude Simmons Bonnin.

BORN: Feb. 22, 1876.

DIED: Jan. 26, 1938, and buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

BACKGROUND: One source says she was born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. She was sent to a Quaker missionary school for Native Americans when she was 8, three years later returning to South Dakota for four years. She graduated from Earlham College in Indiana in 1897, then taught at Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. The school’s determination to eradicate Indian students’ cultural identity made her unhappy. In 1901, she returned to the Yankton Sioux Reservation and began collecting stories later published as “Old Indian Legends.” After she married Raymond Bonnin, the couple lived in Utah. She had one son, Ohiya."

Get the Story:
Famous South Dakotans: Activist fought for Native Americans (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 4/22)

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