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American Indian Stories

Zitkála-Šá

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American Indian Stories is the second story collection by Dakota author Zitkála-Šá. In contrast to her earlier collection Old Indian Legends, which is a collection of traditional Dakota legends, American Indian Stories is a collection of stories about contemporary Dakota life. Many center on the interactions and conflicts between Dakota and settler society, especially the challenges posed by the assimilationist Indian residential school system. The first few stories (through “Why I Am a Pagan”) are autobiographical in nature, drawing on Zitkála-Šá’s own experience as a student and then teacher in residential schools. Her story “The Softhearted Sioux” about a Sioux man’s loss of cultural and religious identity was even attacked as “trash” by her employer at the Carlisle School, Richard Henry Pratt (the coiner of the infamous slogan “kill the Indian, save the man”).

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