The School Days of an Indian Girl

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Nina D. Akins-Lee Prof. Connolly ENC 1102-372793 October 19, 2012 The School Days of an Indian Girl “Under the sky of rosy apples we dreamt of roaming freely and happily as we had chased the cloud shadows on the Dakota plains. We had anticipated much pleasure from a ride on the iron horse, but the throngs of staring paleface distributed and troubled us.” (Zitkala-Sa 103) The School Days of an Indian Girl, Zitkala-Sa illustrates in her writings about the Native American cultural suppression, the tension between a desire to conform in the “paleface” society and her efforts to keep Native American roots and cultural intact. Her writing tells of a personal experience of being educated in a settler’s schools. Zitkala-Sa story begins with her childhood as she describes the reality of growing up in Dakota as an Indian girl attending a white boarding school away from home and her family. She recalls her first day as a “annoying clatter of shoes on bare floors….constant clash of harsh noises…many voices murmuring as unknown tongue,” (Zitkala-Sa 103) different from the soft moccasins and her native tongue she is accustomed to. She describe it as her “though my spirit tore itself in struggling for its lost freedom, all was useless.” (Zitkala-Sa 104) She was stripped from the things of familiar, such as her moccasins and blanket to the unfamiliar items of clothes and shoes and eating with utensils. The most significant and dramatic event she recalls, when all the children were required to have short hair. In her culture this was an ultimate humiliation for her, that “only unskilled warriors who were captured had their hair shingled by the enemy. Among our people, short hair was worn by mourners, and shingled hair by cowards!” (Zitkala-Sa 105) She was able to find a hiding place but the women and girls searched the school and discovered her underneath a bed. They
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