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The Flight of Red Bird: The Life of Zitkala-Sa Hardcover – July 1, 1997

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5 Up. Gertrude Bonnin (1876-1938) was born on the Nakota, or Yankton, Sioux reservation in South Dakota. At the age of eight, she went to a Quaker boarding school in Indiana, the first of several she would attend, against her mother's wishes. Bonnin was never able to return to her life as an Indian. Relying heavily on Bonnin's own writings, letters, and diaries, as well as other primary sources and conversations with descendants, Rappaport allows her subject to speak for herself about the heartbreak, confusion, and rebellion toward her education in various boarding schools. Consequently, this account dwells most heavily on her schooling and early adult years, during which time she took the name Zitkala-Sa. Unfortunately, her later experiences as an Indian-rights activist are not given much coverage in the book; Rappaport only whets readers' appetite for additional details. The overall impression that one receives from these writings is one of loss and unhappiness, a result of the profound identity crisis that the woman felt stranded between the Indian and white worlds. This well-documented, uniquely presented book, illustrated with black-and-white photographs, should strike a chord among adolescents establishing their own identities.?Lisa Mitten, University of Pittsburgh, PA
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 7^-10. Zitkala-Sa (Red Bird) was born Gertrude Bonnin in 1876 to a Sioux mother and a white father. At the age of eight, she left the Yankton Sioux Reservation for a boarding school in the East. When she returned six years later, she could no longer find peace on the reservation, and for the rest of her life, she lived between two cultures. She attended college, recruited students for the boarding schools she once despised, and became a well-recognized advocate and political organizer for the rights of American Indians. Rappaport draws heavily on Zitkala-Sa's writings to tell this remarkable story, and it is Red Bird's own words that bring her anguish and confusion to life. The narrative is choppy at times, but Rappaport's account of the contradictions and complex issues that Gertrude has faced in her life will have great interest for young people studying American Indians. Glossary, source notes, black-and-white photos, and an extensive bibliography. Karen Hutt
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Dial; 1st edition (July 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803714386
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803714380
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.7 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Wonderfully told story of a special Native American Indian girl and her journey toward womanhood. When Gertrude is eight years old she is sent to a school for Indian children run by Quakers, this is the beginning of the end of her life as it has been. She encounters prejudice for the first time and learns that white people aren't what they always seem to be. As Gertrude grows and becomes more confident she becomes a wonderful orator and representative for the Native American people. This book would be excellent for children to read so they may understand how Native Americans felt about their treatment at the hands of the white man. I think this book would be an excellent source to use in history classes to show children how the Indians felt when they were forced to give their land to white settlers and move onto reservations.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having read American Indian Stories and Old Indian Legends (Dover Thrift Editions), I was interested to learn more about Zitkala-Sa. The only biography I could find was this one, aimed at middle school children.

Much of Zitkala-Sa's early life is taken from her own writings, which I had already read in the book noted above. The later parts are somewhat sketchy, perhaps because there is not a lot of material to work from. Some insight is gleaned from her letters, and from those we learn that she could be headstrong and manipulative. But that isn't really too surprising after reading her own published writings.

While I would have liked a more extensive biography, this is a well written book and wholly suitable to its target age group. It is well worth anyone of any age learning more about this extraordinary woman.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an amazing book about the life of a Sioux Indian taken from her mother's home on the Yankton Reservation in South Dakota at the age of eight and sent to a boarding school in Wabash, IN.

The first thing they did with all the Indian children was to strip them of anything that related to home, blankets, clothing and beaded moccasins. The second thing they did to them was to cut their hair. Something that happened only to unskilled warriors who were captured by the enemy. Gertrude Bonnin, who later renamed herself Zitkala-Sa, or Red Bird, fought getting her hair cut, her way of rebelling.

However, as time passes, Gertrude finds that she is good in the white man's schooling and does well and is also a talented musician. By the time she is in her teens, she is caught between the white man's world and her Indian Heritage.

The Biography is composed of the original writings of Zitkala-Sa and archival information. Well put together by the author. The book is a great insight on what happened to many Indian children, their life on reservations, and the white Indian agent's greed.

I highly recommend this book. Not only for middle grade and YA readers, but also for adults.
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