Curiosity leads a young warrior to track a new animal. It leads him far from home, but at last he finds a herd of the strange new creatures. They are horses that shimmer with color and run swift as the wind. The Lakota capture and tame them, and the people grow rich and powerful. They become filled with pride. With their newfound strength they rule over the plains. Then the Great Spirit, who gave the gift of the horse, takes it away.
"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
Virginia and her brother are never allowed to pick first from the donation boxes at church because their father is the priest, and she is heartbroken when another girl gets the beautiful coat that she covets. Based on the author's memories of life on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.