Minority groups protesting and petitioning for civil rights have been fundamental to United States history. Before the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, Zitkala-Ša, a Native American rights activist, positions herself as a voice for Native citizenship. Within the native community, however, the issue of citizenship was not as easily advocated for, due to past injustices perpetrated by the United States government. As a result, Zitkala-Ša has been labeled an assimilationist or one who connect to either Natives or Americans.
While her advocacy for citizenship does not go unnoticed by scholars, it is often ignored in her works outside of political speeches. Zitkala-Ša writes about citizenship in her poem “The Red Man’s America” in which she places Natives within the American identity by using and parodying familiar American texts, as we as highlighting how American’s have not been living up to their ideals. Through this poem we see Zitkala-Ša’s advocacy in a new way. Zitkala-Ša frames the gaining of citizenship as freedom through both participating in government and self-governance.
Issue and Volume
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Karpowitz, Camille J.
"Recognizing Freedom: Zitkala-Ša's Fight for Native Citizenship,"
Criterion: A Journal of Literary Criticism: Vol. 16:
1, Article 12.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/criterion/vol16/iss1/12