Translation Moves Zitkala-Sa's Bilingual Indian Legends ruth spack Until Zitkala-Sa (18761938) published "Impressions of an Indian Childhood" in the Atlantic Monthly in 1900 and Old Indian Legends in 1901, most of the printed knowledge available to Euroamerican readers about the lives of Dakota people was transmitted by Euroamerican ethnologists.1 The ethnologists' work had significant limitations, for they were outsiders to Dakota language and culture, and the interpreters on whom they were dependent typically had weak translation skills. In contrast, Zitkala-Sa's work was informed by intimate linguistic and cultural knowledge. Born and raised at the Yankton Agency as a speaker of the Nakota dialect, she brought native speaker intuition to the project of translation. She identified culturally as Dakota, as did other Yankton Sioux. And she was proficient in Dakota literacy, which she had acquired at a bilingual mission school.2 Named Gertrude Simmons at birth, daughter of Táte I Yóhin Win (Ellen Simmons) and a French American trader, she extended her Sioux identity by giving herself a Lakota name, Zitkala-Sa, and by including transliterated Lakota in her writing.3 By the time she reached adulthood, Zitkala-Sa had three Native linguistic and cultural identities--Nakota, Dakota, and Lakota--and she was conversant in
Studies in American Indian Literatures – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Apr 6, 2006
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