American Indian Stories, Legends, and Other Writings

by Zitkala-Sa

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American Indian Stories, Legends, and Other Writings

The daughter of a South Dakota Sioux mother and a white father, Zitkala-Sa wrestled with the conflicting influences of American Indian and white culture throughout her life. This fine collection of her stories and nonfiction writings illuminate the tragedy and complexity of the American Indian experience in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Enrichment Activities
Internet Resources

Enrichment Activities

Questions for Discussion
Consider the following questions in light of what you have just read.
1. What have you learned about the history and practice of genocide in America?
2. How do religion and culture influence people's behavior?
3. In what ways does racism affect the lives of both the oppressor and the oppressed?
4. What is the relationship of reading and knowledge to freedom?
5. What do you suppose were the difficulties of a Native American woman in writing for a white audience at the turn of the twentieth century?
6. How does Zitkala-Sa's work merge literary art with protest? Is it a successful merger?

Legends and Fairy Tales
"Old Indian Legends" introduces Sioux traditions, including Iktomi the trickster, Iya the glutton, and animal characters of the Sioux world. While these legends may at first seem odd and alien to the reader, they are similar to some European fairy tales. Compare and contrast a Sioux legend and a traditional fairy tale.

Biographical Research
Several of the "American Indian Stories" are mostly autobiographical. Research the true facts of Zitkala-Sa's life and show how they are reflected in the stories.

Images of Zitkala-Sa
In the last years of the 19th century, Zitkala-Sa was becoming well-known as a performer, writer, musician, and advocate of Native Americans. She was included in Harper's Bazaar's 1900 list of "Persons Who Interest Us," and was often photographed. These photographs often reveal the photographer's own prejudices and pre-formed ideas about Native American women. Perform an image search for Zitkala-Sa on the Web and discuss the different identities that are portrayed. Which image(s) do you feel come closest to an accurate portrayal, and why?

Internet Resources

Self-Study Tutorial
Grade Levels: 8 and Up
"Native American Experience: Zitkala-Sa" is a self-study course that makes use of an online text, "Impressions of an Indian Childhood."

Zitkala-Sa Online Forum
Links to Zitkala-Sa biography, pictures, portraits, and/or directory searches.

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