"I remember the day I lost my spirit." So begins the story of Gertrude Simmons, also known as Zitkala-Ša, which means Red Bird. Born in 1876 on the Yankton Sioux reservation in South Dakota, Zitkala-Ša left her home at age eight to go to a residential school in Indiana. But she soon found herself caught between two worlds—white and Native American. At school she missed her mother and her traditional life, but Zitkala-Ša found joy in music classes. "My wounded spirit soared like a bird as I practiced the piano and violin," she wrote. Her talent grew, and when she graduated, she became a music teacher, composer, and performer. Zitkala-Ša found she could also "sing" to help her people by writing stories and giving speeches. As an adult, she worked as an activist for Native American rights, seeking to build a bridge between cultures." -- from publisher
This story reveals the life of a Native American boy named Wassaja, who was kidnapped from his tribe and sold as a slave. Adopted and renamed Carlos Montezuma, the young boy traveled throughout the Old West, bearing witness to the poor treatment of Native Americans. Carlos eventually became a doctor and leader for his people.