FLASHBACK FRIDAY: “Overlooked,” South Dakota Edition

On March 8, the New York Times announced their “Overlooked” series, featuring fifteen remarkable women whose deaths had gone unnoticed in the paper’s obituary section since its inception in 1851. Eagerly perusing the obituaries, I started to think about South Dakota women who impacted our nation and whom the general public may no longer recognize. Zitkala-Ša (“Red Bird”) immediately came to mind.

Throughout her life, Zitkala-Ša wrote about American Indian issues, pushing against rose-colored views of boarding schools, Christian ministry, and reservation life. In addition to publishing several books, she wrote articles for Harper’s Monthly and Atlantic Monthly expressing the dynamic pressures to live as a traditional American Indian or to assimilate fully into white society. She cherished her culture, but she also found enjoyment in learning to read, write, and speak out against the negative treatment of indigenous peoples.

Find out more about Zitkala-Ša by reading the “Dakota Images” from South Dakota History, vol. 10, no. 3. Her story Dance in a Buffalo Skull was republished with illustrations by S. D. Nelson in 2007 by the South Dakota Historical Society Press.

Jennifer E. McIntyre


Image at top was taken by Gertrude Käsebier, c. 1898. It is located in the National Museum of American History.

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