Zitkala Sa, Sioux Indian and activist

image for Zitkala Sa, Sioux Indian and activist
In addition to photographing the Sioux performers sent by Buffalo Bill Cody to her studio, Käsebier was able to arrange a portrait session with Zitkala Sa, "Red Bird," also known as Gertrude Simmons (1876-1938), a Yankton Sioux woman of Native American and white mixed ancestry. She was born on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, like many of the Sioux traveling with the Wild West show. She was educated at reservation schools, the Carlisle Indian School, Earlham College in Indiana, and the Boston Conservatory of Music. Zitkala Sa became an accomplished author, musician, composer, and dedicated worker for the reform of United States Indian policies.
Käsebier photographed Zitkala Sa in tribal dress and western clothing, clearly identifying the two worlds in which this woman lived and worked. In many of the images, Zitkala Sa holds her violin or a book, further indicating her interests. Käsebier experimented with changing backdrops, including a Victorian floral print, and photographic printing. She used the painterly gum-bichromate process for several of these images, adding increased texture and softer tones to the photographs.
Currently not on view
Credit Line
Mina Turner
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Work and Industry: Photographic History
Gertrude Kasebier
ca 1898
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Kasebier, Gertrude
Related Publication
Delaney, Michelle. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Warriors: A Photographic History by Gertrude Kasebier
Native Americans
Physical Description
platinum print (overall production method/technique)
paper (overall material)
overall: 15.7 cm x 11.4 cm; 6 3/16 in x 4 1/2 in
National Museum of American History
Object Name
platinum print